The Carter Brown books aren't held in very high esteem, but it occurred to me the other day that I've been reading and enjoying them for close to fifty years now. That has to say something about either them or me, take your pick.
THE DANCE OF DEATH was published in 1964 and features Lt. Al Wheeler, a sheriff's department investigator in California who was the most popular series character for Alan G. Yates, the author who created the Carter Brown pseudonym and wrote most of the books under that name, if not all. (Rumors have floated around for years that some of the books were ghosted, one possibly by Robert Silverberg, but I don't know if that's ever been confirmed.) Like all of Yates's first-person narrators, Wheeler is prone to wisecracks and has a very healthy libido.
In this case, he's summoned to a rich man's isolated mountain hideaway where a suicide has taken place, but it doesn't take Wheeler long to determine that the alleged suicide is really murder. On hand are several members of a ballet company rehearsing for a new show, and the victim is one of the male dancers. There's also a mysterious prowler lurking around, and that, along with the isolated location, allows Yates to work some spooky stuff into the plot. He liked to throw some apparently supernatural elements into his books, although everything had a reasonable explanation in the end, of course, once whichever detective was in that book had solved the case.
The plot twists in this one seem painfully obvious, but Yates manages to work in some nice reverses in the late going. As always, the writing is fast-paced and breezy, Wheeler is a likable character, and there are several beautiful babes on hand. Everything wraps up in a dandy shootout and a few last wisecracks. THE DANCE OF DEATH is hardly a classic of mystery fiction, but I found it an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.