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Hope and Dottie, the time-traveling teachers from Sedona, Arizona’s Garnet Canyon School of the Arts, indulge their craving for adventure and passion for classic movie musicals when they travel to 1934 Hollywood and the set of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ latest song and dance collaboration. Amid RKO Studio’s bevy of celebrities and the art deco-inspired Big White Set, they team up with eager sleuth Ginger Rogers, to solve The Case of the Bumped-off Dancer.
When Hope and Dottie, along with their dancer friend Tina, decide on a whim to locate their time-travel rock in a Sedona wash in order to visit the set of The Gay Divorcee, research for the upcoming Garnet talent show turns from a madcap caper into a murder investigation. Carmen, the missing dancer, is an enigma: who was she, who were her friends and who was her worst enemy, the person vengeful enough to leave her dead in a soundstage wardrobe closet? Keen and witty Ginger, a great fan of Agatha Christie novels, arranges for Tina to be hired as a replacement dancer and enlists the girls from Sedona as movie-lot sleuths. The inept Detective Chandler is not pleased.
Detecting at RKO and the Hollywood of an earlier time brings Ginger and her partners to the star-studded Cafe Trocadero, a house party at the celebrated Pickfair estate, dress rehearsal for Hope’s favorite “Night and Day” number, a séance to determine if the set is indeed cursed, and trysts in shadowy corners of the soundstage; the suspects mount.
They have limited time to play sleuth, dashing between the two eras as their commitments (and Dottie’s budding pregnancy) permit. During one of their Sedona interludes, after Tina’s flamenco performance, she meets Kyle, a handsome, vulnerable park ranger with an ambiguous past, which makes her doubt her decision to work in movie musicals. Meanwhile, preparations for the Garnet talent show, “From Bell Rock to Broadway: A Sedona Salute to Musicals” continue, featuring selections from 42nd Street, strippers in drag and Hope’s personal tribute to Fred and Ginger with a partner yet to be determined.
Is the perpetrator one of Carmen’s many roommates, her dance partner, a visitor to the set or even the star of the show? Even though Detective Chandler’s investigation wanes, Ginger and pals continue to unravel the truth. With Carmen’s unique pendant as a clue, parts of her violent past are eventually revealed with the assistance of Hope and Dottie’s friend and colleague Frank Begay and his contacts in northern Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly, an extraordinary place of spiritual energy.
After the pieces fall into place, Hope and Dottie are disappointed when justice does not seem to be served. It takes a violent storm at Flagstaff, Arizona’s Riordan Mansion to bring a sort of divine justice and afterwards, a sense of tranquility. Dottie considers the wonders of pending motherhood and Hope fondly remembers her brush with Fred Astaire as they ponder the spider web-like intricacies of the universe.