Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
3.5 / 5 Stars
When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
Murder Strikes a Pose is the first book in a proposed series featuring Kate and her yoga studio. I thought the book was fairly well done and enjoyed it quite a bit, although upon reflection, I think I liked it more for its discussion on yoga and how it keeps the body healthy, than for its mystery. And honestly, I thought Bella was the real 'star' of this book; I just enjoyed the scenes with her and thought some of the thing she did were hysterically funny. I'm sure all previous, and current, dog owners will appreciate her antics.
Kate was an interesting character and I really liked following her inner struggles about following her instincts or following the teachings she has been taught with regards to yoga. These ideologies sometimes clashes as yoga tends to teach serenity and non-violence, and Kate sometimes had difficulty controlling her impulses and her temper. I especially liked the scene where she throws the cup of coffee across the lobby just as a client walks through the door and has to deal with the consequences of her outburst. Personally, I found her easy to like and easy to relate to as we all have moments like that, ones in which we just want to throw something, but Kate actually does it. I also liked the secondary characters in the book and am looking forward to getting to know Rene and Michael a bit better, especially Rene as she seems so down-to-earth, but I sense a little something there that could be interesting. My only beef with the characters is their focus on their weight and food issues; since when is 130 pounds overweight with thunder thighs? I just think it sends such a bad message to women everywhere!!!!! And focusing on the healthy aspects of yoga and the body/health connections would be much better as it is much more positive and healthier. I get what the author was trying to portray, but I'm not convinced that it was done in the way she meant to achieve.
I really enjoyed the characters and the dialogue between the characters, but where I got lost somewhat is in the mystery aspect of this novel. To be quite honest, it was quite easy to figure out who did it, and I didn't really find the reasoning to be that plausible. However, the overall feel of the novel was good and I did enjoy it, so I was able to somewhat overlook the problems with the mystery side to things. I think if it wasn't for Bella, the crazy, beautiful dog, I don't think I would have it enjoyed it as much. For me, that dog was the story. Having had a labrador retriever with a pancreatic disease, one that cost me well over $150 in medicine every month to keep healthy, I was completely sympathetic to Bella's issue and hoped everything would go well for her. This is one aspect of Kate's personality that I really did admire as she definitely went all out for those who needed her help; giving money to George, taking Bella in when she had no one, helping her friends in need, and so on.
Murder Strikes a Pose was a decent first book in the new Downward Dog mystery series. I really liked Kate and the dog Bella, and I definitely enjoyed learning a bit about yoga, something of which I know absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, the characters and their various shenanigans as well as the scenes with Bella did overshadow the mystery, an aspect that I thought was somewhat lacking; it was far to easy to figure out who did the deed, and I thought the reasons were not very plausible. There are a lot of good reasons though, for me to take a look at the next book in this series, Killer Retreat, when it is released next year.
Author Bio:My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.
I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.
My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I'm not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.
I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.