Dance with the Pony
Zumaya Publications (2002)
Reviewed by Kristina Patton for Reader Views (10/06)
Do you ever have the feeling that someone who is very close to you isn’t being all that truthful with you? What about loving someone so passionately, but that feeling isn’t at all reciprocated? In his mystery, “Dance with the Pony,” Larry Rochelle does an amazing job at portraying these, and other, emotions.
Rochelle’s main character, Palmer Morel, is a country club tennis pro who makes his living by instructing teens, adults, and children how to play tennis. This tennis pro becomes daring detective when his whole life starts to unravel, rather quickly, right before his eyes. As a newly divorced man, whose wife frequents the country club he works at, Palmer has nothing but time on his hands….and very attractive women to teach. When one of the owners of his new favorite hangout, “The Stage Door” gentleman’s club, ends up dead, Palmer and his exotic dancer girlfriend are caught right in the middle. As a wild conspiracy begins to come undone and people start to disappear, Palmer comes to terms with the fact that he may not be able to trust his closest friends.
Rochelle is an excellent writer. Examples of this can be seen in the way he writes his characters so vividly that you can actually play the whole story out like a movie in your mind. For example, Palmer describes his lawyer, Maxine, as a Mariah Carey look alike. Instantly, in my mind, Maxine took on the face of Mariah Carey. Rochelle details all of his characters in the same way, but more importantly, he makes them come alive through their emotions. Rochelle makes the reader constantly aware of the emotions throughout the story. I felt the fear in Palmer, the rage in Linda and Maureen, and the frustration in Detective Rehard.
A great mystery must contain great characters (check), a great plot (check), and excellent strategy and timing (check, check), not to mention the feeling that you are inside the situation (check). Rochelle, as you can see, does all that and more by creating a character that the reader can identify with throughout numerous adventures. Larry Rochelle’s series should be read by anyone who can appreciate a good mystery. So, start the fireplace, grab a blanket, make a cup of coffee or a bowl of popcorn and open “The Stage Door” into a world of intrigue, sexuality, and good, old-fashioned detective work.