"Complex characters & good story-telling!"
Reviewed by Miranda Owen
Posted January 11, 2015
Mystery Cozy | Mystery Woman Sleuth
A KILLER RETREAT is Book two in the Downward Dog
mystery series by Tracy Weber. Although I haven't read the
previous book in this series, I was still able to follow
and enjoy the mystery. A KILLER RETREAT will appeal to dog
lovers because German Shepherd Bella is a central
character. Kate is a passionate dog owner and it's
interesting learning about Bella's unusual medical
I think yoga instructor and sleuth Kate is a flawed, and
therefore very realistic, character. Likewise, the
relationship she has with her boyfriend Michael is not
perfect and more true to life representing the ups and
downs all couples have. The drama brought to the story
because of their relationship struggles, as well as the
subplot involving Kate's friends, make an interesting
diversion from the mystery without distracting too much
from it. I think A KILLER RETREAT is a better story
Kate has such a great support system of loved ones.
As with most cozy mysteries, A KILLER RETREAT has a lot of
light and humorous moments to balance out the death and
danger. Having the main character under suspicion and
trying to prove her innocence adds an extra feeling of
intensity to A KILLER RETREAT. Tracy Weber does a good job
of making the reader feel Kate's sense of anxiety and
desperation. I love how the villains in A KILLER RETREAT
are complex characters rather than cookie-cutter
predictable ones. The clues scattered throughout the book
kept me guessing right up until the very ending.
A KILLER RETREAT is a cozy mystery with textured
and some good story-telling. There are a lot of twists and
turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. I
look forward to to reading the next Downward Dog
to see how things work out for Kate and Michael.
When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes to
wedding guests at the Elysian Springs resort, she jumps
the opportunity, even though it means being forced to
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
the resort's hot tub, shortly after a loud, public (and
somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate. The police pick
as their number-one suspect, so she's forced to team up
boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd
sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they'll have
solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her
gig may last a lifetime--behind bars.
ExcerptThis excerpt begins shortly after yoga teacher Kate
Davidson finds a body in the spa at an Orcas Island
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
The melodic lilt in Sergeant Bill’s voice had completely
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.
“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.”
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Complex characters & good story-telling!
Great job with this review. I loved the book and you have
presented it so well.
(Billie Jackson 9:57pm January 11, 2015)
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