(Reviewed by Glenda Anderson)
Orcas Island, Washington, site of a beautiful resort, is the locale of the new Downward Dog Mystery, A Killer Retreat. Invited to a wedding, Kate, a Seattle yoga teacher, drags along her newish boyfriend and her 100-lb. German shepherd for some get-to-know-each-other-time and festivities.
Even though their cabin is more Plymouth-Rock-Austere than Pacific Northwest-Sleek-Casual (as in bathrooms and kitchen), Kate’s still game, steeped as she is in charming goodwill, yoga and all things vegan. With only a whiff of mystery, all her time spent on the yoga mat won’t tamp down her devious curiosity. Heck, the book’s title has already spilled the beans! Orcas Island is Killer Retreat!
Sure enough, it’s all been foreplay leading up to the main course. At last! Corpus delicti! No quicker than a shepherd can bark twice, Kate drops yoga and boyfriend, strips off her shirt to reveal her true colors, emerging in her real persona and passion, that as Super Detective!
Just like Agatha Christie, Kate goes down the list: who of the guests or spa hands, normal neurotics all, did the deed? Who couldn’t shed any part of a delicious evil even in a paradise such as Orcas? Who didn’t find inner peace (gratis Kate’s free yoga lessons) as the body turned into a pretzel as twisted as her/his mind? Which one crossed the line from hate and jealousy to murder most foul?
Kate is too good natured to ever see Stephen-King-like creepy dark shadows lurking behind a bougainvillea, or behind (or inside) a steaming pile of manure. It’s all light and fun, nothing to give us nightmares. Certainly a cold corpse, such a small trifle, won’t ruin everyone else’s vacation? Will it? Or, for that matter, the wedding?
Bella, the shepherd, a recovering PTSD buddy to Kate, and constant partner fully committed. But! How about the human boyfriend? Did he gain a sharper perspective while roughing it with Kate and Bella, even with a little murder thrown into the mix? Will he be around later? Or does Kate’s propensity for sticking her nose into trouble turn him off?
Certainly a mystery on the lighter side, A Killer Retreat is clever and character-driven. Pack it in your bag for a fun beach read. Next installment please!