Monday, December 1, 2014

A Killer Retreat (A Downward Dog Mystery #2)

Author:  Tracy Weber
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars
When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes to wedding guests at the Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center's two caretakers.

Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate's problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort's hot tub, shortly after a loud, public (and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate. The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she's forced to team up with boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they'll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime--behind bars.
Kate and her boyfriend Michael have decided to take a vacation - well, a vacation for him, but a working one for her.  She has taken a temporary job at a Elysian Springs resort as a yoga instructor for wedding guests.  When they arrive, they find that their 'beautiful cabin' is quite a bit more rustic than described - it needs a lot of work, actually.  Kate also finds that a woman she saw at the ferry landing is at the resort, and just as nasty as she was when she first encountered her.  When the woman (Monica) is found murdered (and no spoiler here, because we all know who is going to get murdered pretty early on in most mysteries), Kate is not only the one to discover the body, she is also the main suspect.
Wanting to stay out of the investigation she is nevertheless drawn in when the woman who hired her, Emmy, asks her to help because she figures as the yoga instructor she can ask questions the police can't.  Reluctantly, Kate agrees.  Along with this, she is worried about the health of her dog Bella; her friend Rene shows up with her husband Sam and they aren't speaking because Rene won't tell anyone what is wrong and why she is sick; and Kate is sure Michael is going to ask her to marry him and she is avoiding the subject as long as she can.
I gave this book four stars because the mystery was pretty good.  There is no dearth of suspects, and any one of them had reason to hate and kill Monica.  She destroyed Emmy's mother's marriage; she is making life hell for her husband; and she is doing her best to ruin Emmy and Josh's wedding, among other things.  Almost everyone who came in contact with her realized how toxic she was.  So I had a nice time sifting through all the potential suspects.
The loss of one star was due to the fact that a) anyone could figure out pretty quick what was wrong with Rene but her friends and husband are obviously slow on the uptake; b) instead of facing Michael and just talking things out Kate appeared to push him away (even though he hung on for some reason) by running off every time he got 'that look'.  She's thirty-two and can't have a rational discussion about her fear of marriage? and c) the talk about yoga was slightly overkill.  Unless you're extremely interested in yoga and its poses, there are sections of this book that are boring.  I knew going in that it was about a yoga instructor, I just didn't know I'd actually be involved in taking her class.  It's sort of like reading a culinary mystery and the baker walked me through step-by-step in making a cake.  It's nice to hear the description of the cake, but I don't need to know how much sugar was added, how much flour, etc.  It gets boring pretty fast.
I can see how Kate and Rene are friends, though.  Neither one wants to face their problems - through the entire book neither one of them wanted to speak with their better halves about what was bothering them.  Why are they involved with anyone?  If you can't talk to your spouse/boyfriend, regardless of what the outcome might be, why are you in the relationship?  Adulthood is hard...
But, as I said, regardless of this, the mystery was good, and that's why we read the book.  Recommended.
I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review but this in no way influenced my decision.  This book will be published in January 2015.

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