Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Review: Dance With Death by Will Thomas

by Will Thomas
Release Date: April 13, 2021
2021 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978 -1250624771
Audiobook: B08BJD36QP
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

In June of 1893, the future Nicholas II travels to London for a royal wedding, bringing with him his private security force and his ballerina mistress, Mathilde Kchessinska. Rumored to be the target of a professional assassin known only as La Sylphide, and the subject of conspiracies against his life by his own family who covet his future throne, Nicholas is protected by not only private security, but the professional forces of both England and Russia.

All of these measures prove inadequate when Prince George of England is attacked by an armed anarchist who mistakes him for Nicholas. As a result, Barker and Llewelyn are brought in to help track down the assassin and others who might conspire against the life of the tsesarevich.
My Thoughts
Dance With Death is the next entry in the Barker & Llewelyn mystery series and this one focuses on their ability to defend a spoiled tsarevich from being assassinated.  While the interaction between our two main characters continued to be interesting, with some intriguing politics thrown in, it was quite a bit slower than previous books.

Thomas Llewelyn has always been a character with whom I could empathize, and I have always enjoyed his slightly sarcastic spin on events and people.  His humour is what I would call deprecating, but it is never snarky or condescending, which I appreciate.  He is a bit bumbling at times and seems to catch the intentions of his partner, both politically and personally motivated, almost two seconds after everyone else, which still makes me laugh, but he is not portrayed as less intelligent than his partner, just that he doesn't think the same way, something I find interesting psychologically.

I enjoyed most of the other characters as well and enjoyed seeing how the author intertwined the real historical figures with his invented characters to being Nicholas' personality and difficulties to light.  I personally would have liked to have seen some more emphasis put on Nicholas' mistress, Mathilde, as even a star such as she would have had a difficult life during this time period.  I've seen some grumblings about the author talking about her weight, but during this time period, this is a valid thing to talk about as many of these ballerinas were starving and often were forced to prostitute for the company for which they were working to keep the donations coming in and were paid very little for the hard work they did. We all know the outcome of Nicholas' actions and behaviours today, but I could definitely understand her ambition and her fear.  
The overall story was its usual laidback format, but I did find it a bit slower than usual and I was also a bit irritated by Rebecca.  I don't want to give away any plot points, so I'll just say that I just rolled my eyes and thought it was so out of context and didn't fit with her personality and the story.  Was the author just trying to create some drama? Hard to say, but but for me, it didn't sit well.  Too much talk about how men will never understand women; I just felt like the author was trying to create some tension between certain characters for whatever reason and it sort of fell flat.  Tension that is believable, okay, but tension just for the sake of creating tension, no.
Dance With Death had some very interesting historical concepts and I definitely enjoyed reading about Nicholas' visit to London for the royal wedding as well as about the attempts on his life.  I know the attempts were fictionalized, but so much else actually happened and it is evident the author did a lot of research for this book.  I didn't really notice a lot of character development in this one though, and I did think the plot was a bit slower than usual, with some repetitive elements.  I also thought the mystery was a bit weaker than usual as it focused far more on the historical aspects and was quite easy to figure out.  While you could jump into the series with this entry, there is a lot of information you may miss as the author doesn't really explain the relationships as there is an expectation you are already familiar with the characters.  



  1. Replies
    1. Yes, all the covers are definite;y great. I'm not one to choose a book based on its cover, but I am in awe of some of the work that goes into some of those covers.