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when yoga ends in murder.

Downward Facing Death by Michelle Kelly
Pub. Date: January 19, 2016
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, Minotaur!)
Summary: After ten years away, Keeley Carpenter is excited to be back in Belfrey, the traditional English village hometown she fled as a shy teen, with a plan to reopen her father’s neglected butcher shop as a yoga café, where she will sell delicious vegetarian food by day and teach yoga classes at night. However the more traditional residents of Belfrey do not take kindly to this idea-or really anything they deem even remotely “New Age-y.” Within an hour of her arrival, Keeley comes face to face with Detective Constable Ben Taylor, who tells her that someone has just tried to burn down her shop. When officers arrived to stop the blaze, a body was found upstairs. Horrified by this news, Keeley is also startled to be reintroduced to Ben as DC Taylor, as he was her high school crush. In spite of her instant attraction to him, Keeley is determined to keep Ben at arm’s length.

As she settles back in to Belfrey and makes plans for her opening day, she soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. When Keeley starts being threatened herself, she realizes someone may be out to kill more than her business prospects – but can she and Ben find the culprit before it’s too late?
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Contemporary

Growing up as the village butcher’s daughter, Keeley was dubbed Lardypants by her fellow classmates and virtually unknown to her crush, the popular and ultra-handsome Benjamin Taylor. After her father’s death, Keeley’s mother (never one for the country) resettled and, after graduation, Keeley took some time to travel – first to India where she discovered a love of yoga and a vegetarian lifestyle that helped to completely overhaul her body and later to New York where housewives would shell out some serious cash for a yoga session. After ten years away, however, Keeley is feeling the call of home.

Armed with a plan to reopen her father’s shop (only this time as the Yoga Cafe, a yoga studio-meets-vegetarian diner) Keeley heads back to Belfrey and, well, the locals aren’t exactly on the tofu bandwagon. Things go from bad to worse when, upon arrival, Keeley is informed that, not only did someone attempt to burn the place down, but there was also a murder. As if that wasn’t the extent of her problems, the popular and ultra-handsome Benjamin Taylor? He’s now Detective Constable Ben Taylor and he’s got some questions for Keeley.

A murder in a yoga studio and a selection of vegan recipes. Seriously, it’s like this book was written for me. The moment it arrived at my door I knew I wanted to read it and I ended up bumping it straight to the top of my list, settling down yesterday and powering through in one sitting.

One of my guilty pleasures is a good cozy and Downward Facing Death hit all the marks: well-written and likable characters, a fun setting, an intriguing Who Dun It, and – of course – a dog. Bambi, a big ol’ goofball of an Irish Wolfhound, completely stole my heart and as much as I avoid spoilers in my reviews, I want to mention this one: at one point, the killer poisons Bambi. Give me the goriest, most graphic act of violence and I won’t bat an eye, but if there’s an animal involved I turn into a weeping mess. He does make a full recovery, but it’s still something I felt necessary to point out for potential readers.

Downward Facing Death is an excellent debut and a fantastic start to what I’m hoping will be a series (the ending leaves it VERY open to the possibility of a sequel!) Excellent characters and a quick clip of a pace had me turning pages and guessing the entire time. In addition to the recipes (which I’ve been eyeing up: vegetable curry, moussaka, a Greek feta salad – YUM!) there were a few breathing techniques thrown in throughout the novel as well (Ms. Kelly segued into these perfectly and many times the comments had me legit laughing out loud.) Whether you’re a diehard fan of cozies or something looking for a light-hearted read now that the holiday frenzy is over, I highly, highly recommend this one!

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