Title: The Tease
Author: Nikki M. Pill
Format: Paperback and eBook
Series: The Darling Killer Trilogy # 1
Best Read in Order: Yes
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About the Book:
Anna Zendel is your average 32-year-old therapist, stressing about clinical exams and struggling to recover from an abusive relationship. But at night she transforms herself into the saucy burlesque dancer Velvet Crush, enchanting Chicago audiences with the art of the tease. As Anna struggles to keep the therapy and burlesque worlds separate and get over her crush on the troupe’s emcee, a new danger threatens women across the city. The papers have dubbed him the Darling Killer, because after strangling his victims, he scrawls the word “darling” on their skin. When one of Anna’s fellow dancers is murdered in the dressing room, she realizes that Darling Killer could be closer than she thought. Could Max, Anna’s new therapy client who confessed to fantasizing about dead girls and obsessing over the Darling Killer, have anything to do with the murders? As more women are murdered, and Anna begins receiving mysterious gifts, this burlesque dancer pits feathers and sequins against foul play in the deadliest dance of all.
This book starts with a fabulous premise, and the writing does set the scene for the reader, placing you in the mix. Anna is an interesting character, with a solid voice and a clear passion for her ‘day job’ as a therapist. Additionally, whether it was her in her character, or a holdover from the professional detachment of a therapist, she was difficult to know, needing a bit more background to offer a more empathetic character. At some points her voice falters, and she seems to question everyone and everything repeatedly: readers see the invasive nature of doubt and suspicion as it infiltrates her every thought.
Including the details of the burlesque troupe and the art form is a wonderful side plot that, while beautifully described and detailed, doesn’t quite fit with the Anna we first come to know: her discomfort with admitting to the night job, even as she obviously enjoys the persona of Velvet Crush, come through in her reactions. I would have liked to feel more connected to the strength and control that she feels in her adopted persona. Her relationship and obvious connection to her cat was well-developed, perhaps because Anna seems very cat-like to me in her observation of those around her.
Other details fully place the reader into the story: perhaps to the detriment of the forward motion, but even that did not detract from what was an engaging and well-crafted mystery with potential for more. Anna seems to be one who “watches” before she acts, so in a strange way the descriptions did feel like her, if slow for the reader. This is a good book, which could be great with a few tweaks. The mystery has a long list of suspects, not only the one that was caught in this story, nor the obvious ones, but the several other potential suspects introduced and still to be introduced as the story moves forward in this trilogy.
I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Enter to win one of two eBook copies of The Tease at this Rafflecopter. Open Internationally – drawing closes at midnight (est) on 10 May, winners will be notified via email and twitter.
About the Author:
I received my BA in English Literature and Philosophy from Lake Forest College. My short story “Shadows on the Pews” appeared in Hell in the Heartland Volume I and received an honorable mention in Best Horror of the Year Volume I. I typically write dark fantasy and horror. The Tease is the first non-supernatural piece I’ve written since 1994.
My other great passion is bellydance, which I have pursued since 1998. I wake up at an ungodly hour of the morning to practice my writing and dance disciplines. I love to read, cook, watch movies, do yoga, listen to music, and make things. I live in Chicago with my intermittently grateful cats.