Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: BOLERO by Joanie McDonell

Bolero: A Nick Sayler Novel“Even cut and bruised and bleeding, her kind of beauty opens doors everywhere.”

In BOLERO, the damsel isn’t driven to the private dick, rather a late night call by a concerned doctor issues PI Nick Sayler with an attractive case surrounding a mysterious and beautiful ballerina who has lost everything (material and memory) except the PI’s calling card. The victim of an assault has left the ballerina bruised and bloodied – the exact same way Sayler forges his friendships. In a nice bit of early symmetry this quickly establishes the PI as a man built on good fortune and friendships born from violence (generally as their saviour). There’s a doctor, Sloane, and an assistant in Meriwether who form part of a faithful inner circle aiding Sayler in his endeavours, coupled by Fallen and Goode – a pair of determined cops who are willing to go outside the law and bring the perpetrator to justice.

BOLERO is a sequence of mysteries, first surrounding the damaged ballerina’s identity, second a murder, third, an inscription left of the body of an assault victim with potential linkages to other crimes. For Sayler, the case becomes more personal as the ballerina’s memory slowly returns along with her personality and care for her saviour. It creates an interesting dynamic when her relationship status, circle of friendship, and professional situation exposed.

The damp, constant rainy, wet and grey setting complements the theme of BOLERO. I particularly liked the depiction of the ballerina in constant light as a contrast to the backdrop to really add a feel of warm loveliness otherwise missing in the dangerous world.

I would love to read more of Nick Sayler’s growing pains and journey from displaced child to determined private eye. Author Joanie McDonell paints a vivid yet slightly skewed picture of Sayler’s past that demands attention. While not a new coming of age/origin concept, the Sayler in the now is unique, entertaining and worthy of further exploration. This PI is one with a lot of potential.


  1. I'm about 40% into this book and really enjoying it. I agree that Sayler is a PI with a future for many more novels in the future. I hear she is working on the next one!

    1. Hi Wayne, I hear too that Joanie McDonell is looking to expand upon Sayler's past which is very much a good thing.

      I enjoyed the place-setting of BOLERO and think McDonell is onto something with her interesting PI and unique band of friends.

      Glad to hear you're enjoying the book :-)