(As with yesterday, SPOILERS for plot but NO SPOILERS for the mystery's solution.)
Dark Shadows: The Tony & Cassandra Mysteries 1.2:
The Mystery of La Danse Macabre
written by Zara Symes
Yesterday's story was a take on Agatha Christie, this one is riffing on the Scooby Doo format. Tony and Cassandra are brought in to investigate the supposed haunting of a music hall inherited by the friend of a friend of their secretary Rita from her recently deceased father. The friend, Peggy, and her brother have been trying to restore the music hall but they've been getting offers for the land. Peggy wants to rebuild the hall that was her father's obsession, Russ wants to sell the damn place.
Naturally, Tony puts the hauntings and small fires that have been breaking out on Russ in classic Scooby Doo fashion. Cassandra, meanwhile, believes that something more supernatural is going on and keeps sensing “something” as they explore the old music hall. Meanwhile, there's the preserved dressing room of a ballerina who committed suicide on the premises, a perfect candidate for a haunting.
Honestly, its a perfect scenario for Tony and Cassandra's first official case together because it plays to both their strengths. The transparent motive of the brother means that Terry, a man who has seen more than enough supernatural shit, has a reason to be cynical and go for the debunking explanation over trusting the powers he knows full well Cassandra has. Whether or not he's right or the ghost is real I'll leave unsaid but needless to say the resolution revolves around both partners using their unique skill sets at the same time.
The main conflict of the story comes from Tony and Cassandra learning to work together as partners, actual partners instead of the temporary alliances of previous adventures. Of course we come back to the deep trust issues that exist between the two as Tony questions Cassandra's sense of romance given her past manipulating him. Cassandra, meanwhile, has ample reason to question whether Tony actually wants her as a partner or merely an assistant. For his part, Terry ignores her supernatural senses continuously, urging her to think in terms of evidence and motive rather than her instincts.
It does the job that the second story of these four part box sets do: we got the team together in the last story and this one fixes or addresses the lingering issues before we move into the “status quo” story of the third and the blow everything up phase of the fourth. So it should be said I heartily look forward to hearing what the status quo version of this team works.