Baby Doll Games Hardcover – Large Print, Dec 1992
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|Hardcover, Large Print, Dec 1992||
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"An exceptionally gripping tale of hate, jealousy and murder... By the time the story reaches its dramatic conclusion, readers will be in mourning, wishing the end hadn't come so soon" Publishers Weekly on Uncommon Clay "One of the most seamless Southern authors since Margaret Mitchell" Publishers Weekly on Slow Dollar "Maron's appealing story races forward at breakneck speed" Library Journal on Slow Dollar" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"Lieutenant Sigrid Harald, NYPD first appeared in... "One Coffee With" in 1981. "Fugitive Colors" is her eighth adventure, with each book set in what was - and is - the current "now."
"One Coffee With" began on a blue-sky sunny April day. Spring gave way to summer, then autumn in New York, followed by Christmas and one of the worst Februarys in the city's memory (in Sigrid's memory, too, unfortunately)
For the author, fourteen years have passed. For Sigrid Harald herself, no matter how much internal evidence alert readers may cite to the contrary, it has been only one short tumultuous year.
And now it is spring again. . . "
As mentioned, this jewel of a character study spans the course of eight full length novels plus two short stories, one, "Lieutenant Harald And the `Treasure Island' Treasure" was originally published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and the other, "Lieutenant Harald And The Impossible Gun" first appeared in Marilyn Wallace's fourth anthology. Both can be found in Margaret Maron's short story anthology "Shoveling Smoke".
As other reviewers have noted, these stories must be read in the correct order to fully understand the amazing transformation Sigrid goes through in the span of a short year, both internally and externally. And yet, all of the books can stand alone as well-plotted mysteries. This is the mark of Maron's true genius.
"Baby Doll Games" (1988) - On Halloween at a matinee ballet performance, a shadowy figure kills a dancer in a little Greenwich Village theatre before an audience of horrified children. Sigrid is outraged. Her instincts tell her it was a crime of passion, but she has no evidence. She does, however, have a source of inside information. Her roommate, Roman Tramegra, had been acting as scenarist for the company's production of a new ballet `Ghosties and Ghouls'. This has enabled him to observe the interactions of the troop for several months. Will this be enough to enable Sigrid to figure out what has really been going on that was worth killing to cover up?
Sigrid continues to have her personal life push at the boundaries she would like to set for it. One of the witnesses in the audience turns out to be an old schoolmate of Sigrid's and has her own agenda when it comes to renewing the acquaintance. Another question is why has her boss, Captain McKinnon, specialized in Detective Second Grade Michael Cluett (who is pushing sixty if a day) from Brooklyn to help cover her department's temporary depletion of manpower. Detective Tildon is not expected to return to work before January. But why Cluett, who is so obviously just counting down the weeks until retirement? And Nauman is now ready to take their relationship to the next level. Is Sigrid?
This is another morally ambiguous murder mystery that Margaret Maron excels at; one is left with a profound sadness at the end of the book, knowing that a single decision could have kept things from becoming this dire.
Emmy Mion ran the 8th Ave 8 Dance Troupe. They gave performances and taught classes to children. Everyone loved Emmy but someone killed her by tossing her onto an iron fence on stage during an afternoon performance of their Halloween themed dance. No one has a motive and the killer got away. None of the dancers has an alibi either. Sigrid's flatmate, Roman Tramegra, also works at the theater and offers to poke around. A school chum, Dr. Chista Ferrell, was in the audience and wants Sigrid to get her mother to cover her department in her New York agency picture story. But none of this helps solve the murder of Emmy Mion.
There are actually two stories that touch tangentially in that Sigrid had started the investigation of the first murder (the mother of the children Dr. Ferrell is treating was killed) and handed it off to another team. These stories interwine as the investigations of Emmy Mion murder continue. Soon we learn that another murder involving a student at the theater may be related to Emmy's death. And throughout we see Sigrid trying to deal with her personal life as private from her job as well as her insecurity in dealing with her mother and her emotions.
The initial murder is engaging and there are enough twists and people involved to hold a readers interest. This is part of an ongoing series of books featuring Sigrid Harald so there are more to move on to if you like this one.
I picked the murderer immediately, though I had no idea what the motive might be, and though I wavered a few times as new information came to light, I stuck with that choice.
Despite the frequent fits of artistic temperament, it was interesting to see how the ballet troupe still worked together like a close-knit supportive family, even while knowing that one of their number was a killer. I’ve never seen a better example of the old maxim ‘the show must go on.’
Sigrid’s housemate Roman wrote the scenario for the Halloween ballet and has been hanging around the troupe for months during the rehearsals, so has an insider’s view of their interactions. Roman has long been planning to write a mystery novel and has been nagging Sigrid for interesting case details. He tries to play the sleuth here and does some useful poking around while cleaning up.
Oscar is largely absent on other business which confuses Sigrid.
I felt as Sigrid and Anne did about the pushy do-gooder child psychologist who used the baby dolls of the title to communicate with her young patients, and was happy to see her get her comeuppance. But I would have appreciated an epilogue to tell us what happened to the two orphaned children. 5 stars