Karma’s a Killer is a fetching third entry in Tracy Weber’s “Downward Dog Mystery” series. Yoga instructor and animal lover Katie Davidson returns to deal with the murder of an animal rights protester when the woman accused of the crime claims to be her long estranged mother who abandoned her as a child.
Katie is surrounded by a cast both of characters you would normally expect and some you’ll be surprised by. There’s the supportive boyfriend willing to put up with her trust issues and the cute young thing who may be a rival for his affections. However there’s also a wise-cracking, junk food guzzling buddy who just happens to be pregnant with twins and an elderly goat raising lawyer who hides his expertise behind a bumpkin pose. To this mix of what would seem to be regulars, she adds a set of animal rights activists, a wealthy do-gooder or two as well as some less well-off animal lovers working for animal rescue shelters. Not to omit her personal canine buddy, her German Shepard Bella, a dog with a personality all her own.
The plot of Karma’s a Killer is workmanlike, and if not quite breathlessly page turning, tight enough to keep the reader guessing. Weber knows full well the rule of the Chekovian gun: she provides more than her share of clues which don’t seem to mean much when they are first mentioned, but turn out to be crucial to the mystery’s solution. Moreover she lards them over with plenty of red herrings as well. Weber knows what she is doing.
Besides she has a clever prose style that will either have you chuckling at her word play or grimacing at her nerve. A few examples: the local ‘pot’ and coffee shop is called Mary Jane Mocha. An animal rescue outfit is DogMa. A dog with a Rottweiler’s head and a Weiner dog’s legs is a “Rott-weiner.” One of the signs at a goat park for kids reads, “The Best Kids Have Hooves.” One man’s corn is another’s bon mot.
The book is laced with animals and yoga. Not only are there dogs, cats and goats, there’s a pigeon, a crow and a bunny as well. There are an assortment of yoga classes for all sorts of people and as the book opens there is even yoga for animals. And if, like me, you haven’t the faintest notion of what distinguishes Warrior I from Warriors ll and lll, it may make you question your ignorance, but it doesn’t materially affect your enjoyment of the story.