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Publisher's Summary

Fiona can't wait to attend the performance of Coppelia at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh. Her old friend, Silja Ramsay, is dancing the principal role. They have dinner after the show, but when they return Pittsburgh Ballet Theater is down one dancer! Ballerina, Alexis Cartwright, has been found dead in the dressing room. Is this murder a result of hot tempers among the cast members? Or is it a random act of violence? Will there be more murders? Homicide Detective Nathan Landry isn't taking any chances. After finding out Fiona has a strong background in ballet, he recruits her to go undercover among the cast of Coppelia. Can Fiona help catch a killer, or will she be the next victim?

©2016 Cindy McDonald (P)2017 Cindy McDonald

What listeners say about Murder on Pointe

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Fun Book to Listen Too.

Maren Swenson Waxenburg did a great job narrating Murder on Pointe. It was a fun to listen to how Fiona kept getting in trouble. Great book to listen too.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome Cozy mystery to listen to.

I love a cozy mysteries, and after reviewing Back to the Burgh and Beyond, I wanted to read more from author C.S. McDonald, so I wanted to read the first book in her “A Fiona Quinn Mystery” series, Murder on Pointe. And what a good cozy read it is! Fiona’s friend Silja is dancing the principle role in Coppelia at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, and if course she wants to go see her dance. What Fiona didn’t expect was one of the dancers found murdered after the show. To help Detective Nathan Landry find the culprit, Fiona goes undercover as a dancer. And then the fun, and the investigation begans.
I love Fiona and enjoyed her new journey as a dancer. The situation gets pretty sticky at times, as she weaves herself in with all of the dancers, but it is so much fun as I felt myself in the story and trying to help Fiona sold the mystery. The characters were well crafted and I enjoyed their development throughout the story. The twists and turns woven all through the story makes the story more fun and enjoyable. If you enjoy an awesome clean and fun cozy mystery, this is one you want to read. And you can pass it on to the teens and tweens in your family because this book and the other books in A Fiona Quinn Mystery series are nice and clean enough for this age to enjoy.
As for this one, I had the joy of listening to the audiobook of Murder on Point, and I love listening to narrator Maren Swenson Waxenberg tell the story. Her voice flows so smoothly, and she does an outstanding job portraying the different characters, as well as the punctuations throughout the book. Her voice makes the book so fun and interesting and a real joy to listen to. As you can tell, I love this book! And I hope you will love it as much as I do.
A special thanks to the author/publisher for a copy of this book. I am not required to write a positive review, the opinions here are mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I Only Half Figured it Out Early

Fiona Quinn, a kindergarten teacher, is visiting the ballet theatre for the first time since the injury that ended her ballet career before it had even truly begun 10 years prior, but as she and her dancer friend arrive and go to visit another dancer in her dressing room they discover the body of murder victim #1, the soloist slated to dance as Coppelia. An investigation starts immediately and local police decide they need an investigator on the inside and ask Fiona to return to dance and take on the Coppelia role so she can get close with the rest of the ballet company and theatre staff. Unfortunately for the company, the first dancer dead will not be the last.

After absolutely loving Back to the Burgh and Beyond I was so excited to experience another cozy mystery by the same author and narrator. In my experience with the cozy mystery genre, it usually doesn't matter which order you read the books in a series, so the fact that I selected the first book in the Fiona Quinn series is a coincidence. I saw pointe shoes on a cover image and ticked that box. I grew up dreaming and wishing I had been given the opportunity to either dance ballet or compete in gymnastics professionally, and when I was a college student I took the opportunity to register for adult recreational ballet classes. I caught the ballet bug and went as far as learning basics up en pointe, and I still love checking out anything to do with ballet when I see it.

Unfortunately, this one didn't hold up quite as well as Back to the Burgh and Beyond did. Even more unfortunate is that it's mostly due to the narrator's performance, despite the fact that I loved her performance in Burgh and said I wanted to listen to more books she narrates. My first and biggest complaint about the narration is that she doesn't appear to take a breath for 20-minute stretches. Given how much better the narration on Burgh was I'll concede that this could be a case of overzealous editing rather than poor pacing on the narrator's behalf, but it made my normally comfortable 1.5-2x playback speed almost impossible to listen to. If you snag my phone, launch Libby, and open any audiobook just to see what playback setting I was most recently using, it'll probably be 2x. This book sounded like I had it set to 3-4x and I had to decrease it. That's not something I do often! My second complaint is that while she did do well with the pronunciation of common knowledge ballet terms, the more obscure ones were very hit or miss. For example, fouetté does NOT rhyme with pirouette. Lastly, names were getting messed up, and I don't know if that was a problem with the text, the performance, or the editing. When Cynthia is first introduced I swear she was called Celia and I questioned why there would be two Celias in the same short book. Much later (chapter 10, I believe) Fiona is called Celia for the first half to two-thirds of a scene. There's clearly only one of the ladies in the scene, the scene is at Fiona's house, and the lady is the owner of the house. I know I'm not getting confused that this shouldn't be Celia, but the officer with her calls her Celia for most of the scene.

The story itself is very good and true to form for the cozy mystery genre. This is an excellent introduction for Fiona as a character, and although I had half the mystery figured out in the first hour of this 4.5 hour audiobook, I thought I'd solved the whole thing and the other half caught me by surprise in the last hour. I loved David's sense of humour, and I got my Schadenfreude fill when a certain later murder victim meets their end. My only critiques of the story itself (besides the title saying "on" pointe instead of "en" pointe and the fact that I've never heard anyone say janitress before) is that as someone who struggled to do pique turns en pointe as a 22-year-old intermediate student I just couldn't buy the idea that someone who had not danced en pointe for a decade would be stage ready in a week (even with the modified choreography) or that the professional ballerinas would allow it. I'm very glad there weren't too many actual Fiona dancing scenes because that always took me out of the story as that doubt settled in.

Overall the story is a solid 4-4.5, the narration is more like a 3, so I'm calling this a 4 out of 5 stars. If you like cozy mysteries and stories about ballet dancers, read this! If you struggle to listen to fast-paced recordings, though, perhaps opt for the print/ebook version.

I was granted complimentary access to Murder on Pointe as part of my participation in a blog tour for the author's latest title, Back to the Burgh and Beyond, through iRead Book Tours. Thank you to all involved in affording me the opportunity to listen to and review both books! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Ballet can be deadly

Murder on Pointe
A Fiona Quinn Mystery #1
By C.S. McDonald
Narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg

Fiona Quinn is thrilled her BFF Silja Ramsay is back in town and about to dance the principal role in Coppelia. But before she has time to even enjoy a visit with Silja murder has taken out one of the dancers. Having discovered the body Fiona and Silja are the police's best chance at witnessing anything of importance.

Homicide Detective Nathan Landry is going to do his best to solve the case and if that means recruiting Fiona Quinn to go undercover for him so be it. It's been more than ten years since Fiona last danced, thanks to a career-ending skiing injury, but with pleas from Detective Landry and Silja Fiona agrees. But she won't skip out on her kindergarten class so the ballet will just have to work around her schedule. Can Fiona find a clue to help catch a killer before they strike again? Or will she become the next target? And even more important is Detective Landry interested in her as Silja suggested or is it just wishful thinking? And then there is Fiona's house, not saying more but it definitely has a few interesting attributes that Fiona is not wanting to explain.

Not that murder is fun or enjoyable, but overall this was an enjoyable read (or listen in my case). And I learned more about ballet than I had previously known so the glimpse behind the scenes was more than a little interesting. This is the first book in the Fiona Quinn Mystery series and this is definitely a series I can see myself enjoying books of. The pacing was good and at just 4 hours and 30 minutes not too long of a read (or listen) and it was perfect for commuting to work. The narration by Maren Swenson Waxenberg was done well and most of the character voices (but not all) were distinct enough to tell them apart easily.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book with no expectations but that I provide my honest opinion. All thoughts expressed are my own.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fun start to a cozy series.

After reading Back to the Burgh and Beyond, I was anxious to read more from C.S. McDonald. Murder on Pointe seemed the best place to start. Now on to my thoughts.

This cozy mystery is a quick, fun listen or read. The author hooks you in the opening pages with a murder and then keeps throwing twists, turns, and red herrings at you until the end. I was so sure I had it figured out, but I was wrong.

The book has all the cozy mystery devices needed for a delightful story. Loyal best friend...check. Cute dog...check. Dreamboat detective...check. Antagonist you love to hate...check. Multiple suspects...check. Don't take my word for it. Read the book for yourself. If cozies are your genre, you'll enjoy it.

As for the audiobook, I loved it. Maren Swenson Waxenberg does her usual magnificent job portraying the various characters. Her inflections make it easy to differentiate the large number of people in the cast. Maren's voice is so soothing and pleasant, I could listen to her read a phonebook. Well, that statement certainly dates me, doesn't it?

Overall, I highly recommend this book to lovers of a quick, fun, mystery.


I received the audiobook as part of a blog tour and read the digital version through Kindle Unlimited.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Pretty good cozy, pretty awful narrator

I pretty much enjoyed the cozy mystery. I love ballet and dance and it's not a very common cozy theme. However, the narrator made this audiobook barely tolerable. She never, ever pauses and seemed to be in such a rush. Is she in a race to finish? How does she catch her breath? I'm sure this audio book would be 5 or 6 hours, rather than 4.5, if she read with the appropriate pauses and pace. The narrator also used the same monotone and inflection for every single darned character, male and female. I could not tell whose dialogue she was speaking. No emotion, no voice acting, Also, her voice is more "mature", sounding like an elderly person. I believe the main character is younger by several decades. One positive comment - her voice is very clear and I had no difficulty understanding her.

If you want to read this book, I would highly, highly recommend to get the print version. I will no longer be listening to any more of this series due to the narrator. Regarding the mystery itself, I did enjoy the main character Fiona. I enjoyed the plot, how the culprit was discovered. I did enjoy the mystery, characters, and setting enough to continue with the next book in the series - not on audio, unless it is a different narrator.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Who knew murder could be so much fun?

Loved the story, characters, mystery, and narration. Fun audiobook to listen to. Fiona Quinn is a terrific character and narrator succeeds in bringing her to life.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Take a Breath!

I’m giving the story 3 stars because the narrator made it impossible to listen to it long enough to make an actual judgement. I assume that somewhere in the first 20 minutes is a period. Surely the whole story isn’t written as one unbroken narrative with no punctuation, but you wouldn’t know it from this narrator. She surely is a woman in a hurry. I won’t be trying anything else from her.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Murder of a ballerina

In Murder on Pointe by C.S. McDonald, Fiona Quinn goes to the ballet to watch her long-time friend, Silja, perform the lead role in Coppelia as a special doll made by a toy maker played by Fiona and Silja’s ballet instructor.
The morning show goes beautifully, after which the friends go to lunch and discuss the conflict among the cast, with several people fighting over important roles. Returning to the theater, the pair find one of the lead dancers murdered, struck from behind with a heavy object. A homicide detective, Nathan Landry, comes to the theater, and Fiona finds him very attractive. Then, at 3 a.m., Detective Landry brings Silja to Fiona’s house after someone has attacked Silja in a manner similar to the attack on the murdered ballerina in the theater garage. Concerned that someone is targeting ballerinas, Detective Landry asks Fiona to go undercover for him as a ballerina, despite the fact that Fiona has not danced in years after a skiing accident that cut short her ballet career.

This book was an enjoyable light read. The setting of a ballet is one I’ve never come across in a mystery, but it did not require any understanding of the style of dance. It allowed me a nice chance to have a casual cute read. The one incongruity is the references to Fiona’s ghost grandmother who helps her out. That supernatural element doesn’t fit in with the rest of the book, which is natural. Then it gets silly and ridiculous.

Maren Swenson Waxenberg narrates the audio edition of this book. While sufficient, the performance did not especially impress me. She reads the book with much less expression than typical audiobook readers, and the words seem to run together, in particular with very little pause between sentences. The performance detracted from the story too. I almost gave up on the book when I started it because the narration didn’t appeal to me, but I’m glad I stuck with it because the book was a nice read, though I did not like the ending.

I enjoyed Murder on Pointe for the most part, as it kept me entertained. But I did not find the ending very satisfying. The behavior of the murderers seemed unrealistic, and Fiona’s behavior towards the criminals was pretty farfetched. This conclusion was unsatisfying, making me change my rating of the book from the four stars I intended to give it to three stars.

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  • Jacqueline Kirk
  • 07-06-17

Fiona is a loveable chatterbox

I am glad these books are now available on Audible, I have already reviewed Waves of Murder, the book after this one, and put it on Goodreads I will copy it on to Audible. Even though I read the books in the wrong order it did not spoil my enjoyment of this story. This book has a creative and unusual plot that causes a merging of very different worlds and Fiona finds herself mixed up in murder as a consqeuence. Yes, as the title suggests it involves ballet, but not in the way you think. Fiona, the main protagonist is very loveable probably because she has some minor flaws that are instantly forgivable and actually make her more likeable.The story keeps you guessing "who done it" right until the end. There are some surprise touches that I won't mention because they would spoil the story but they add to the enjoyment of the book. The narrator Meren Swenson Waxenberg is superb. As we dedicated Audiobookers know, the narrator is almost as important as the story and Ms. Swenson Waxenberg is now on my list of narrators to watch out for.
This book is perfect for a relaxing read. It will also make a long journey more enjoyable or any chore you're doing more pleasant.

2 people found this helpful