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Last Girl Dancing    by Holly Lisle order for
Last Girl Dancing
by Holly Lisle
Order:  USA  Can
Onyx, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

For the last twelve years, Jess Brubaker has been obsessed with discovering the fate of her twin sister Ginny. Jess drops all plans to become a dancer and joins the police force instead. Her exemplary detective work and close friendship with HSCU (Atlanta Homicide Special Crimes Unit) detective Jim Hennicut help her become part of a continuing investigation that has gone nowhere. A serial killer has been targeting exotic dancers at a popular strip club. With her background in dance, Hennicut is certain that Jess would be the perfect bait to catch not one, but what he thinks is a team of serial killers. Jess is leery about entering the seedy world of exotic dance, but realizes that taking the assignment might be her last chance to find out what happened to Ginny.

One thing she doesn't count on is Jim's insistence that she work with consultant Hank Kamien. The ex Army Ranger turned martial arts instructor has a rare gift; he's psychic and has successfully helped Hennicut close past cases. Jess wants nothing to do with psychics; she's certain they're all frauds after being played by one while searching for her sister. But Jim insists that Kamien is the real thing. Jess reluctantly agrees and from the moment she and Hank meet, sparks fly. He's looking for a reason to trust women again, and soon realizes that Jess is the one he wants in his life. Falling in love catches them both by surprise, but once the cunning killers set their sights on Jess, the couple's chance at happiness may be short-lived.

Solid characterizations, a fast-paced plot and a nice job of misdirection make Last Girl Dancing another exciting page-turner. Lisle adds just enough of the paranormal to add extra depth to the story. Her handling of the sordid world of exotic dancers is also realistically presented not only through Jess and Hank's reactions to what goes on behind the scenes, but also by strong, descriptive writing. And her villains are ones none of us would want to meet in daylight hours, let alone after dark. Holly Lisle is on the fast track to becoming a strong presence in romantic suspense.

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