Rhapsody in Black

An Elena del Carral Mystery

Fiction - Mystery - General
250 Pages
Reviewed on 03/05/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Sherri Fulmer Moorer for Readers' Favorite

In Rhapsody in Black by María Elena Alonso-Sierra, Elena del Carral was hesitant to accept the invitation to return to Terpsichore Ballet in New York City. She was invited to audition for an unfinished ballet from the late choreographer master and to dance in a gala performance that would enable her to connect with former mentors and colleagues. Unfortunately, they aren’t all good memories from her previous work five years ago, and she soon remembers why she left. Not only have there been incidents of harm and sabotage in the company, but Elena also has a secret about Black Rhapsody, the unfinished ballet, that threatens to turn an already tenuous situation upside down. When things come to a head with several attacks targeted to make Elena look guilty, she wonders what is happening at Terpsichore, and why her arrival painted her as a villain.

Rhapsody in Black by María Elena Alonso-Sierra is an excellent thriller that will give you a glimpse behind the curtain of the world of ballet and professional dance. This mystery kept me turning the pages until the end. The author did a great job of crafting this story because I had no idea about the motivation or the villain until the final reveal. It’s fascinating to have an “inside look” at the world of ballet, and the life of artists at the top of their game (and after). This fast-paced thriller is intriguing and will keep you guessing right until the last page. An excellent mystery for those who enjoy this kind of reading, and a look inside a life behind the curtain. I really enjoyed this book and read it way past my bedtime!

Nino Lobiladze

Rhapsody in Black by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra, the first book in the Elena del Carral Mystery series, is an exciting read for fans of mystery, drama, and detective novels. Elena del Carral returns to New York from Europe after years of absence. A talented ballet dancer and choreographer, Elena will dance in the National Terpsichore Ballet's gala. An audition for a part in René Fauchier's unfinished ballet, Black Rhapsody, is also scheduled for Elena. She knows a secret about Black Rhapsody, and the invitation to the audition makes Elena uneasy. Elena learns that strange occurrences and acts of vandalism plague the Terpsichore Ballet, where she once performed. The closely guarded secret comes out, and Elena has an ugly fight with her former colleague in the Terpsichore Ballet and ex-lover, Justin Bakare. Soon after, Elena finds someone badly injured in the darkness of the rehearsal hall.

In Rhapsody in Black, Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra invites us behind the scenes of the dazzling world of ballet. The author shows how unforgiving this magnificent art form can be to those involved, adding dramatic notes to the narrative. Rhapsody in Black has several dynamic characters, starting with the intelligent and highly professional Elena del Carral. The author demonstrates how the personality traits of ballet dancers and their relationships with each other can affect their professional lives. Thus, the young, daring, and highly determined Martina Brzinsky challenges her fellow dancers. "We’re friendly with one another, but we’re mortal enemies as well, some more openly belligerent than others," Elena explains, intriguing readers even more. I liked the lively exchanges between the characters and the hints of a tasteful romance. The plotline is carefully elaborated and has thrilling twists and turns. The author reveals the unpredictable outcome of Rhapsody in Black in the best tradition of classic mystery.

Vernita Naylor

It is beautiful when stories are dedicated to those who make great sacrifices for the lives of others. Rhapsody in Black: An Elena del Carral Mystery by María Elena Alonso-Sierra, is dedicated to the author’s mother, Elena del Cueto, whose career not only influenced the title of this book but was a prima ballerina, choreographer, and instructor. Despite her mother’s passion and notoriety, she made the tough decision to leave Cuba and her career to raise her daughters in a safe and wholesome environment. Set at the Terpsichore Ballet Company, the environment is competitive like any other ballet company but with a twist. Ballerina Elena del Carral accepted an offer she couldn’t refuse. She was asked to audition and dance at the Rhapsody in Black Gala Fundraiser by Derek Michaels, co-founder of the Terpsichore Ballet Company, and American Theater's former principal dancer of over fifteen years. Even though she was no longer a part of the Terpsichore Ballet Company, she knew that being a part of this masterpiece provided the opportunity to unveil her secret. This secret would not only jump-start her career as a principal dancer but she would then be able to expand her choreography skills and reveal some hidden truths about the Terpsichore Ballet Company.

Rhapsody in Black has everything that a great suspense story needs. As we pull back the curtains and look behind the scenes of the Terpsichore Ballet Company, we see scandal, attempted murder, and sabotage. I enjoyed seeing Elena take the risk to right a wrong that occurred years ago. You never know when it is the right time to divulge a secret and how things will turn out because often things don't go as planned. Readers will enjoy seeing how Elena cleverly plays her hand regarding the secret of the Black Rhapsody masterpiece and its connection to the Terpsichore Ballet Company. Taking calculated risks that can impact your career and destroy everything you've already accomplished in life is always tough. Curl up with this book and enjoy!