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A Killer Retreat

A Killer Retreat, February 2015
Downward Dog Mystery #2
by Tracy Weber

Midnight Ink
Featuring: Kate Davidson
338 pages
ISBN: 0738742090
EAN: 9780738742090
Kindle: B00QVLB9MA
Paperback / e-Book
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"A yoga teacher is suspected of murder at a health resort"

Fresh Fiction Review

A Killer Retreat
Tracy Weber

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted January 11, 2015

Mystery Cozy | Mystery Woman Sleuth

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder Strikes A Pose featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and the large dog foisted upon her after the death of her owner. So I was thrilled when these inimitable characters returned in this second Downward Dog Mystery - for those not familiar with the term, it's the name of a strengthening yoga pose.

Kate and Bella, accompanied by Kate's new boyfriend Michael who runs a Seattle pet store, are heading off for A KILLER RETREAT on Orcas Island where a retreat centre has asked Kate to teach yoga for a week. The autumn weather is good on Puget Sound, she's brought Bella's specialist diet and a wedding will be celebrated during the week. What could go wrong?

A thunderstorm terrifies poor Bella, who next day takes it out on a terrier whose haughty female owner refuses to keep him on a leash. Michael gets covered in mud saving the pup's life. The wedding party is composed of as many tensions as people, and while Kate's delighted with the vegan restaurant, others throw tantrums over the lack of meat. Someone else has clearly had enough aggravation from one of the guests, because after teaching her class, Kate stumbles upon the scene of a murder.

I like the gentle yoga teachings, such as; speak less, speak the truth, and rather than cause harm, say nothing. Kate keeps trying to live up to her own ideals but like the rest of us she's not perfect, and sometimes angry words slip out which she instantly regrets. We can all learn from her experience on Orcas Island. The local police are more used to straying goats than criminals, but that doesn't mean they are slow. Kate is potentially in a lot of trouble. If she can't prove her innocence, her days of running a yoga studio may be at an end.

With plenty of detail about renovating a health resort (including bamboo towels) and yoga classes, the account feels busy and personal relationships provide a further dimension. Tracy Weber has compressed a lot of life experience into this tale of a week at A KILLER RETREAT. The dog lovers among us will be constantly amused while fans of amateur sleuth stories could hardly do better. Tracy Weber has really got into her stride so I can recommend this instalment in the Downward Dog Mystery series wholeheartedly.

Learn more about A Killer Retreat


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.


This excerpt begins shortly after yoga teacher Kate Davidson finds a body in the spa at an Orcas Island resort.

The deputy separated the five of us, presumably to keep us from synching our stories. After allowing me to change into some dry clothes, he sequestered me in the center’s library and told me that “Sergeant Bill” would take my statement shortly. By “shortly,” he must have meant a few days after Hades turned icy. I paced the small room for well over an hour, reliving the morning and thumbing through magazines I didn’t have the attention span to read.

I should have practiced pranayama or done a few yoga poses to calm myself, but I couldn’t seem to sit down. All I could do was pace like a caged tiger, back and forth, forth and back, thudding my tennis shoes against the wooden floor in a dull, rhythmic cadence. Hopefully being a trapped animal wasn’t my metaphorical future.

I froze.

The police couldn’t think I killed Monica, could they?

I had to admit, from an outsider’s perspective, it didn’t look good. I didn’t like Monica, that was no secret. My fingerprints were all over her belongings, not to mention the murder weapon. I’d even been found yanking on Monica’s water-soaked body.

Oh, crap.

Back to pacing. Back and forth, forth and back.

Ninety panicking, fretting, foot-pounding minutes later, the deputy knocked at the door. “Sergeant Bill’s ready to talk to you now.” He led me to Emmy’s office, which “Sergeant Bill” had commandeered for a makeshift interview room. Sweat covered my palms and dripped down the back of my neck. I felt like a paranoid teen on her way to the principal’s office. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I was convinced I’d be sent to detention, nonetheless.

“Have a seat Miss, um …” The man sitting behind Emmy’s desk looked down at his notes.

“Davidson. Kate Davidson.” I hesitated, much too nervous to sit. “I’d rather stand, thank you.”

His eyes met mine. “I said, have a seat, Miss Davidson.” It wasn’t a request.

I sat.

While the sergeant reviewed his notes, I drummed my fingers on the desktop and took stock of my future inquisitor. He was short, no more than five-foot-six, and his pants were held up by a belt approximately two sizes smaller than his doughy middle. His receding hairline accented a large, creased forehead.

Nervousness made me goofy—like a dental patient who had inhaled too much nitrous. I couldn’t suppress a giggle. I was about to be grilled by the sergeant from Gomer Pyle.

He laid down his notebook and scowled across the desk. “Something funny I should know about? Personally, I don’t think murder’s a laughing matter.”

I immediately sobered. “No, of course not.”

“Glad to hear it.” He leaned back and smiled disarmingly. “This should only take a few minutes.”

He pretty much stuck with the basics at first. He told me his name: “Sergeant Bill Molloy, but you can call me Sergeant Bill.” He asked me where I lived, why I was on the island, what I’d done that morning, and how I’d happened to come across Monica’s body. His lilting, almost melodic voice lulled me into a false sense of security.

I conned myself into believing that Sergeant Bill was just a good old boy, looking for the truth. Dad said I should never lie to the cops, so I answered his questions honestly. But I didn’t volunteer any information. My recent altercations with Monica had nothing to do with her murder. Why confuse the issue?

Sergeant Bill took copious notes, nodding and smiling encouragingly. After fifteen rambling minutes, I completed my spiel.

“Well,” he said, closing his notebook and laying down his pen. “I think we’re about done here.”

“You mean I can go?” It couldn’t possibly be this easy. I never got away with anything.

He shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

Relief washed over me like water in a warm shower. For once, luck and the universe were on my side. I stood up, eased to the door, and rested my hand on the doorknob. Only two more steps and I’d be free. My mind chattered, nervously narrating each action in a silent monologue.

OK, Kate, you’re almost there. Stay calm and don’t blow it. I took a deep breath. Turn the knob to the right. The latch clicked and released. Open the door. The hinges squeaked open; a cool breeze caressed my cheeks. As I glanced through the doorway, the empty hall beckoned me— coaxed me toward freedom.

Step one foot forward, and—

“You know, there’s only one thing I don’t get about your story.”

The melodic lilt in Sergeant Bill’s voice had completely evaporated.

Tension spread from my toes to my scalp. I tried to suppress—or at least camouflage—a mounting sense of panic. I took a deep breath and turned to face him. Sergeant Bill leaned forward, elbows on the desk, fingers laced together. He didn’t look at all friendly.

I forced my lips into a smile and tried to look innocent.

“What’s that?”

“Why is it that six different witnesses say you threatened to strangle the victim this morning?”

Sergeant Bill wasn’t smiling anymore. Then again, neither was I. We stared at each other in silence.

“Why don’t you close that door and sit on back down.”

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