"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

13 September 2016

2016 Book Review #56: Dancehall



This is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of book....fast-paced, full of drama, mystery, happiness, sadness, madness, frenzied, calming, chilling and gripping....all of these adjectives come to mind when I think on this storyline.


It is June 4, 1982 and up in Lake Placid, NY, the body of a young woman floats to the surface of the deep, dark lake from 300 feet of water.  The lake is always deep and intensely cold so the body, after being examined by medical experts,  is determined that it has been submerged for about 20 years and  is pretty well-preserved.  That day, they aren't able to determine the identity of the young lady, but they do have evidence that the death was very violent.  And thus the mystery and solving begin...........

Meanwhile, Dave Powell and his wife Sue, both very wealthy and living in Tarrytown, just north of NYC, are raising their young daughter Dana who has a debilitating illness.  Dave owns a company that is not doing well currently and is in negotiations with Sue's long time close friend and business associate, Emily Hunter of Manhattan.  Their lives are those of the very rich. 
 The Powells have a summer home in Lake Placid, on an island known as Camp Louise, which has been handed down to them from Sue's very wealthy and socialite parents, the Dickersons.

The story opens in Green Haven Correctional Facility, in Stormville, upon the night of an execution in 1986, as NYS has brought back the death penalty.  

It then goes back in time to 1962 when this story really begins with Dave Powell dating Sue Dickerson and working at the Adirondack Club where he meets another teenager named Ann Conway.  Sue leaves for Newport, RI with her parents while Dave continues to stay at Camp Louise working as a waiter at the Club.  One night, he brings Ann back to the island with him as she needs a place to spend the night, after they party at the local Dancehall with the other summer help.  It is dark on the island and around the camp....only the loons can be heard.....and then.......

  life changes..............

Conway becomes the body in Lake Placid.  And Dave, 20 years later, becomes the suspect, and then is found guilty of murder.  

But is he really??

Who really ends up in the Dancehall, which is what the execution room is known as at the maximum security facility??


This book first drew my eye at the town library because the author lives in my town! He is a former FBI agent.

 It also appealed to me because it is a mystery set in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks, mentioning areas I have hiked in!  

The author does a marvelous job at setting up the characters and drawing you in to loving Dave, Dana, and the staff at their home.

I began to suspect one person as the murderer and I ended up being correct.

The thing you really should pay attention to is the role of the doll that Dana drags around with her.  Pay attention to the description of it.......it is very symbolic for another character in the plot.  I don't want to tell you too much as that will ruin the reading experience for you.

There are many disturbing features in this book...mainly the description of life in the prison as a death row inmate...but disturbing only if you are an anti-death penalty person as I am.

The other neat feature of this book is that the story is loosely based on a real life crime story that actually happened in the 1930s up in Lake Placid.  You can read about that here: the lady in the lake....fact and fiction

This story deals with marital issues, lesbian issues, financial issues, life and death issues, as well as the resilience to persevere and hope for justice to be served.  It also touches on mental illness and again....I don't want to spoil anything for you, so just read it!!

The best quote in my opinion, was found on page 373:

"Don't be silly,  Daddy. She's only a doll.  Dolls can't feel anything."

(Dancehall by Bernard F Conners, c.1983) 

Pay close attention to that doll when you are get to know each character in the story.  

This book is brilliantly written and leaves you wanting more from this author.  I am going to check out the other books he has written.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some mature content)

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

How interesting that it's written by someone from your hometown. Sounds interesting.