Sixteen-year-old, Jason Miller, wants three things: to become a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, graduate from high school, and avoid his mother’s ballet classes.
When he finds the body of the most popular girl in school, he has a major freak-out session, and then calls 911. But if finding a body wasn’t bad enough, when a horse doll made of human skin and hair is found in his locker, the entire town accuses Jason of the murder.
As the body count rises, so does the hostility. Jason is left with a choice: To run and hide or to clear his name and find out why the killer is targeting him before it’s too late. (Click on cover art for more info)
My 5-Star Review of DANCING WITH A DEAD HORSE by Danielle DeVor
Danielle DeVor’s ‘Dancing With A Dead Horse’ is one of the best whodunnits I’ve read in a long time. This is one of those rare books that after you get a few pages into it you say: Oh man, this is gonna be really good, then shove everything else aside and dive in head first. I did and I wasn’t disappointed. Quite the opposite.
I can only assume that Ms. DeVor stopped developing at the age of 16 or 17. That would explain her uncanny ability to get into the head of a teen so convincingly and see the world through his eyes. And when that teen, Jason, finds himself accused of killing a classmate, he becomes the wrongfully accused man hounded by the sheriff and ostracized by his peers.
The tension mounts at warp speed and you wonder how Jason’s going to get himself out of this mess. And then another body is found, and another, each one making Jason appear a little more guilty. At each crime scene, the killer leaves behind a gruesome signature, from which the title is derived.
Although the story is not written in first person, you almost feel as if it is. Jason’s reactions to the nightmare he has been thrust into is expressed in a sort of stream of conscious narrative. He is so real, so vivid, his dialogue so believable, his teen emotions right on the surface where they belong, that you feel like he has just burst into the room and screamed for your attention the way any genuine teen would.
DeVor’s ability to portray teen angst with such accuracy, compassion, and even humor is, I believe, unparallelled. She understands that a large part of that angst derives from floundering in the thorny nether land between childhood and adulthood where being accepted for who you are becomes an unending quest, especially difficult when the teen himself doesn’t yet know who he is.
DeVor emphasizes this by making Jason’s mother a Russian emigrant (defector actually) who grew up in the bad old days of the USSR and remembers what it was like to be unjustly persecuted. Even though she is now a US citizen, she is still not accepted for who she is. That she is a ballet teacher who speaks broken English and forces Jason to take ballet lessons – definitely not cool – only further sets him apart from his classmates.
Once again, as in her previous books, Ms. DeVor proves her mastery of narrative thrust. You feel as if you’re in a runaway car speeding down a steep mountain road with no brakes. Highly recommended.
Danielle DeVor spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching “Salem’s Lot” way too many times. After living briefly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she moved back to her hometown to write. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha frappuccino.