The 1981 novel, Save The Last Dance For Me, is another book that I found in my aunt’s paperback collection. I have to admit that I got really excited when I found it. This is a book that I had wanted to read ever since I came across the cover in Paperbacks From Hell.
Jennifer is blonde, beautiful, young, and ambitious. She’s a driven dancer who is totally obsessed with becoming a soloist for one of New York’s best dance companies. She’s got an older boyfriend, of course. He’s a podiatrist who hopes that Jennifer will abandon her dreams and marry him. Jennifer, however, is not so eager to settle down for a boring domestic life.
Max is a pianist who was raised by a narcissistic alcoholic who continually pressured her young son to learn ballet. Neither Max nor his mother may have had much of a career as a dancer but that hasn’t stopped him from dreaming and obsessing. Max has a basement and a bathroom that is full of ballet slippers.
Together …. THEY SOLVE CRIMES!
No, sorry. (I know, I know. I use that joke a lot but what can I say? It amuses me.) Instead, they have a drunken sexual tryst after Jennifer has an argument with her boyfriend and this leads to Jennifer not only getting locked in the basement but also being forced to eat a totally disgusting hamburger! (EEEEEK!) Max demands that Jennifer learn a terrible solo and he demands that she practice and practice it until she collapses. It turns out to all be an elaborate revenge scheme, with a hint of Phantom of the Opera tossed in. (It’s perhaps not a coincidence that Judi Miller also wrote a book called Phantom of the Soap Opera.)
There’s actually quite a bit going on in Save The Last Dance For Me. This is a very plot-heavy book. It’s full of bitchy and duplicitous characters, all of whom have their own agendas. It also turn out that Max has been killing ballerinas for years. The two detectives who are investigating the murders have to deal with a lot of pervy suspects, all of whom have their own fetishes when it comes to dancers. As someone who grew up dancing, I can tell you that, in its hyper and melodramatic way, this book gets a lot of things right.
Anyway, not surprisingly, I really loved this book. This was one of the most wonderfully trashy books that I’ve ever read, full of twists and subplots and red herrings and even a memorably overdone sex scene. Basically, imagine the most melodramatic and sordid Lifetime movie ever but in book form. In fact, I’m actually kind of surprised that Lifetime hasn’t ever made a movie out of this book. I mean, if they can turn V.C. Andrews novel into an “event,” why not Save The Last Dance For Me? Get on it, Lifetime!