Feminist detective dances with murder and adultery in Christie-style ballerina mystery

Award-winning YA author debuts first adult police procedural

LOUISVILLE, KY – The curtain rises on a  new murder mystery from award-winning author of Deadly Setup and Leisha’s Song. Lynn Slaughter’s Missed Cue (Aug 8, 2023, Melange Books) finds Lieutenant Cailtin O’Connor in a theatrical mess when a prima ballerina fails to awaken during the final act of Romeo and Juliet. With multiple suspects, infidelity, and a twisted plot of romantic entanglements while also dealing with Caitlin’s personal love life, Missed Cue is a fast-paced Agatha Christie-style mystery that twists and turns to the final act.

Winner of multiple awards including the Silver Falchion Book Award, Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Imadjinn Award and recognized by the Agatha Christie awards and the CIBA awards, Slaughter is no stranger to creating captivating narratives shrouded in mystery. Now she takes her expertise in young adult writing reaching a new audience with her first mystery novel for adults.

When star ballerina Lydia Miseau misses her cue during a performance, Lieutenant Caitlin O’Connor encounters the most complicated case of her career. The autopsy reveals no clear cause of death, so Caitlin must not only figure out who killed the ballerina, but how the killer did it. Her investigation uncovers an intricate web of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge. When the medical examination reveals that Lydia was a few weeks pregnant with a child who could not have been her husband’s, Caitlin discovers painful parallels between Lydia’s life and her own illicit involvement with a married man.

For fans of Lori Robbins’ “On Pointe” Mystery Series and Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins, readers will love spinning through Caitlin’s thrilling mystery as she seeks the true murderer and the truth about her own illicit romance.

“Missed Cue”

Lynn Slaughter | August 8, 2023

Melange Books | Police Procedural/murder mystery

Paperback | 979-8-88653-153-4 | $16.99

Ebook | 979-8-88653-154-1  | $5.99

Lynn Slaughter is addicted to chocolate, the arts, and her husband’s cooking. Her family tree is peppered with musicians, and like Caitlin, she’s a huge jazz fan. Music has always made her want to move, and she ended up becoming a professional dancer and dance educator. When injury meant it was time to find a new dream, she earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her previous young adult novels include: Deadly Setup, published by Fire and Ice/Melange Books, which was a Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards silver medalist, a Chanticleer International Awards finalist, and an Imadjinn Award finalist; Leisha’s Song, also published by Fire and Ice/Melange Books and an Agatha nominee, Moonbeam bronze medalist, Imadjinn Award winner, and Silver Falchion Award winner; It Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist; and While I Danced, an EPIC finalist. The ridiculously proud mother of two sons and grandmother of five, she lives in Louisville, Kentucky where she is at work on her next novel and is an active member and former president of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, her local Sisters in Crime chapter. She loves hearing from readers and hopes you’ll visit her website, https://lynnslaughter.com


Advanced praise for Missed Cue

“With Missed Cue, author Lynn Slaughter offers a riveting portrait of a female police officer on the trail of a killer and in search of herself.  Watching Lieutenant Caitlin O’Connor unravel the case, as she seeks to better understand her own foibles, and help her alcoholic partner, made for an exciting read full of insight and suspense.”  

Ellen Birkett Morris, Award-winning author of Lost Girls

“Lynn Slaughter’s latest tour de force, the suspense novel MISSED CUE, draws on her extensive background in the field of dance. The story opens in a rehearsal for the ballet Romeo and Juliet, and it is the perfect venue for a terrible crime. Lynn’s seamless storytelling carries the reader right into the action, and she keeps us guessing as we meet all of her colorful and interesting characters. You should definitely pick up this book, but just be warned, you might not want to put it down!”

Connie Bergstein Dow, author of the picture book TAP AND RAP, MOVE AND GROOVE, and other books about dance

“In Missed Cue, the star of the show isn’t the dazzling ballerina Lydia Miseau, but the appealingly flawed police detective who investigates her murder. As Lieutenant Caitlin O’Connor begins the process of sifting through clues and interviewing suspects, she finds herself entangled in a double journey: to uncover both the identity of a killer and her own sense of self. Political scheming in the dance world is mirrored in her complicated relationships within the New Haven police department, and writer Lynn Slaughter renders both with precision and grace. Competing motives of fame, fortune, and family feuds all have their moment in the spotlight, but it’s the backstage intrigue that propels this narrative to its satisfying conclusion. Well written and tightly plotted, Missed Cue is a showstopper.”

Lori Robbins, Award winning author of the On Pointe and Master Class mystery series

“Homicide Detective Caitlin O’Conner has a very full dance card: a murdered ballerina, a tango with a lover and a partner trying to tap dance around his problems. Missed Cue is a compelling story of a tough but vulnerable woman as she navigates her complicated life.”

E.M. Munsch, author of the Dash Hammond series, the latest being A HAUNTING AT MARIANWOOD

“Don’t let the title fool you. Lynn Slaughter doesn’t miss any cues in this gritty mystery featuring a smart, ambitious, and emotionally flawed detective investigating the suspicious death of an otherwise seemingly healthy dancer. Set in the world Slaughter knows well, Missed Cue will keep you on your toes until the curtain drops on the final clue.”

Valerie (V. M.) Burns, Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, and Next Generation Award Finalist

“You’ll be rooting for whip-smart detective Caitlin O’Conner as she searches for the killer of a star ballerina while also trying to untangle a complicated personal life. A stunning debut for the author’s first adult mystery.”

Victoria Thompson, Bestselling author of Murder on Bedford Street

Praise for Deadly Setup

2022 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Silver Medalist

2022 M Chanticleer International Awards Finalist

2022 Imadjinn Award Finalist

Deadly Setup is “​​…a perfect legal thriller.” – Readers’ Favorites

“In the dramatic thriller Deadly Setup, a teenager is accused of murder, testing her friendships and resulting in tumult.” – Foreword Clarion review

“Deadly Setup starts quietly and then crescendos to shock after shock. Readers will root for Samantha, trapped and brave and facing a terrifying fate. Outstanding story!”

Caroline B. Cooney, internationally renowned author of more than 90 young adult novels of mystery and romance, including The Girl on the Milk Carton

“Deadly Setup takes on the complexities of the mother/daughter relationship amid a captivating murder mystery. Slaughter’s page turning prose and insightful look at family relationships are a winning combination. Deadly Setup is a deeply engaging and satisfying book.”

Ellen Birkett Morris, award-winning author of Lost Girls

“Lynn Slaughter is a master at the romantic, young adult mystery. Her spell-binding story follows Samantha as she negotiates the complexity of teen friendships, tries to find out who killed her mother’s fiancé without getting in the way of the adults who are trying to help her, and grapples to understand why her own mother refuses to believe she is innocent.”

Frances Schoonmaker, multiple award-winning author of The Last Crystal Trilogy

Praise for Leisha’s Song 

Nominee for Best Children’s/YA Mystery Novel, Silver Falchion Award winner for best YA mystery, Imadjinn Award winner for best YA Novel, and Moonbeam Children’s Award Bronze Medalist

“Lynn Slaughter’s knowledge, love, and passion for music are evident in Leisha’s Song. Adept at striking the right balance between tough social issues and young love, Slaughter orchestrates a tale that harmonizes issues of racism, abandonment, and abuse with the power of love and beauty of music in this young adult romantic suspense novel where two young lovers must dig through generations of hatred and intolerance to uncover the truth and solve a mystery with life and death consequences.”

– V.M. Burns, Agatha Award-nominated author of The Plot is Murder

“Suspense, tender romance, and a thoughtful exploration of racism make this page-turning coming-of-age novel a winner. An academy setting and focus on the creative arts add appeal, and Leisha’s growth from people-pleaser to independent woman will resonate with girls and women everywhere.”

– Lee Tobin McClain, U.S.A. Today Bestselling Author of Home to the Harbor

“Heartfelt, wise and relevant, Leisha’s Song is a compelling murder mystery wrapped around a romance that propels the reader along a ‘must keep reading’ journey. Leisha is a protagonist we come to care for and cheer on as she faces a mystery that must be solved. A romance that must be navigated, and a world that must be grown into. It is a testament to Lynn Slaughter’s immense skills as a writer that she has produced another wonderful adventure story.”

– T. Lynne Singleton, contributing author, African American Alphabet, A Celebration of African-American and West Indian Culture, Custom, Myth, and Symbol

In an interview, Lynn Slaughter can discuss:

  • Making the leap from YA author to adult fiction and the opportunities and  challenges of writing for a more mature audience
  • Her creative use of her experience as a dancer and how it sets the scene for her book
  • The use of alcoholism and adultery in her book to convey dynamic and flawed main characters
  • Her previous works, Deadly Setup, Leisha’s Song, It Should Have Been You and While I Danced

An Interview with

Lynn Slaughter

1. You went from being a dancer to a writer. What are the similarities and differences between the two?

I think the role of “choreographer” (the creator of dances) is most akin to the role of a writer (composer of stories). Both engage in acts of expressive communication—nonverbal in the case of dance and verbal communication for stories. Both art forms take years of practice and study. Both require perseverance and resilience in the face of rejection and setbacks. In addition, for both art forms, there is always “more” to discover and work on.

I also consider the acts of writing and dancing to be wonderfully inspiring experiences. As a dancer, there were so many times that I really went “into the zone,” and it has been the same in writing. It is such a gift to be involved in creative, life-affirming work and to share it with others.

2. Your previous books have all been YA novels. What led you to writing for adults? What was the process like to switch from one age group to another?

I consider myself an “accidental” author for adults. An author friend who knew I’d been a dancer challenged me to write a short story for Malice Domestic’s anthology, Murder Most Theatrical, which I did. But I felt frustrated that I hadn’t been able to develop the detective’s personal life within the limitations of a short story, so I decided to expand “Missed Cue” into a novel. By the time I was done, the identity of the killer had changed, and it became a much more layered tale.

I was actually a little surprised that it didn’t feel like a huge leap to switch to writing a book for adults. For both young adult and adult fiction, it’s vital to immerse yourself in the heads and emotions of your characters. While teenagers have developmental challenges and struggles, so do adults. We are never fully done with growing up. In Missed Cue, Caitlin has finally gone into therapy to try to figure out why she keeps getting involved with married men. Meantime, her partner at work is trying to drown his troubles in alcohol after his wife leaves him.

3. Your stories are always more than just a murder mystery to solve. What was your motivation to include Caitlin’s questionable romantic situation?

Well, perfect people not only don’t exist, but they’re pretty boring! Caitlin is basically a hard-working and caring but flawed character. Rationally, she knows that getting involved with a married man is unhealthy and wrong, yet she keeps repeating this pattern. As adults, I think we’re often dogged by echoes from our childhood and adolescence, and Caitlin struggles with parental messages she received that have affected her personal life as an adult. 

Caitlin’s extra-marital affair is also an issue in the life of the ballerina whose suspicious death Caitlin is investigating. Like Caitlin, the ballerina has many fine qualities as a person but she, too, is flawed, and was deeply affected by her childhood experiences.

I also wanted to show that it’s possible to grow and change and mature as an adult. By the end of the novel, Caitlin is in a much healthier and more self-aware place. 

4. The story also features Caitlin’s partner, who struggles with alcoholism. What dynamic did you intend to bring with this aspect of the story?

Alcoholism is a disease that has affected several family members and dear friends of mine. Inadvertently, caring bystanders often enable the behavior. Caitlin doesn’t want to rat out her partner whose drinking is out of control, and he nearly dies. I also wanted to portray that while recovery is difficult and often uneven, it’s possible.

5. You went back to school to earn your MFA late in life. What was that experience like, and do you recommend that writers pursue MFA programs?

I had a very positive experience in grad school, and I think our shared interest in growing as writers transcended our age differences. I certainly know tons of wonderful writers who did not earn their MFAs. But for me, I found a wonderful learning community. Our teachers were all multi-published professional writers committed to mentoring aspiring writers. 

I do think it’s important to find a good match. Not all MFA programs are alike. Seton Hill is geared toward novel writing and popular fiction, which was a great fit for me and my interests.

6. I love that this story feels very Agatha Christie-esque and also has less of a thriller aspect. After writing so many books, what have you learned about your writing?

I am above all fascinated by people and their conflicts and struggles—and how their challenges interact and collide with the issues of others in their lives. 

All of my books involve people involved in the arts, because that’s the world I know and feel passionate about. And a theme running throughout is discovering who you are and who you want to become, as well as the importance of finding your tribe and intentional community of support.

I’m also very interested in exploring larger issues through fiction, such as:

  • alcoholism in MISSED CUE
  • dysfunctional families in DEADLY SETUP
  • racism and childhood abandonment in LEISHA’S SONG
  • the impact of the death of a favored sibling in IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU
  • the destructiveness of family secrets and parental abandonment in WHILE I DANCED.

Finally, I like to leave readers with a sense of hope at the end of my novels that things can get better, and at any age, we can change, grow, and mature.

7. What’s next for you writing-wise?

I’m currently working on another YA coming-of-age romantic mystery, in which the mother of seventeen-year-old Noelle suddenly disappears. The circumstantial evidence points to suicide, but Noelle is convinced her mother was not suicidal and is determined to find out what really happened. Threaded throughout Noelle’s story is the narrative of a young woman two decades earlier whose escape from an abusive marriage turns out to be related to what happened to Noelle’s mom.

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