The Body in the Ballroom

Written by R. J. Koreto
Review by Tom Vallar

Philadelphia Rutledge’s coming-of-age ball at her uptown New York mansion ends in disaster when one of the most universally hated guests dies. Philly had invited her friend, Alice Roosevelt, who summons her Secret Service agent, Joseph St. Clair, to run interference between the wealthy and the police. Since Alice was on the other side of the punch bowl when the deceased drank the deadly potion, she fully expects to solve the crime herself.

Alice and Joe’s first challenge comes when the police arrest the mechanic who services cars for the Roosevelts and the Rutledges. But Joe vouches for Peter’s character and gets him released from the Tombs; he remains a key to the case to the end. Alice’s access to the high-society guests allows her to procure more clues than the police, and she and Joe soon uncover adulterous relationships galore as well as the existence of an elite secret organization intent on preserving New York from the influx of immigrants. Alice even persuades a member of the Fourth Estate to aid her in flushing out the perpetrator.

This is Koreto’s second Alice Roosevelt mystery, and the snappy dialogue and cameo appearances by the President keep the narrative flowing. He brings the threads of this complex plot to a satisfying conclusion and teases with several romantic liaisons. Throw in international intrigue and thugs protecting a West Side brownstone, and mystery fans should enjoy how he brings turn-of-the-last-century America and the irrepressible Alice Roosevelt to life and look forward to her next adventure.