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The Bookmonger: Find pregnant women, furry critters, deadly plots in murder mysteries

By BARBARA LLOYD McMICHAEL

Published on March 16, 2017 7:00AM

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Some folks can gobble up murder mysteries for breakfast, lunch and dinner; so in their honor this week, we’re going to look at a couple of recent offerings in that genre.

Seattle novelist and certified yoga therapist Tracy Weber launched her Downward Dog series in 2014 with “Murder Strikes a Pose.” Now the fourth installment, “A Fatal Twist,” has arrived in bookstores.

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is still running her yoga studio, living with her boyfriend Michael, and socializing her rescue German shepherd. But now she’s added a couple new layers to her busy life — fostering two puppies that were left on the doorstep of Michael’s pet shop, and training to become a doula in order to help her friend Rene, who is pregnant with twins.

The fatal twist comes when Kate agrees to attend the opening of the new birthing center where Rene is scheduled to have her babies. At the event, she runs into one of her yoga clients, Rachel, who is married to a fertility doctor at the center. But before the evening is over, Rachel is a widow and murder suspect No. 1.

Kate, certain that her client could not possibly be a killer, is convinced that she must sleuth out the real murderer because the cops probably won’t bother to look beyond their prime suspect. She prevails upon Rene to dog-sit her three challenging canines while she gallivants across the city, conducting an amateur investigation that becomes more convoluted than some of those extreme yoga poses you see on TV.

When it comes to plot, author Weber may not always succeed in getting you to suspend your disbelief. But her quirky characters ring true — particularly Kate, whose self-effacing humor, vegan lifestyle, campaign to democratize yoga, and soft spot for pooches make her someone you’d want to stay in touch with, book after book. This cozy mystery series is building its fan base on the strengths of her personality.

Another writer of serial murder mysteries is Lisa Jackson. This uber-prolific Lake Oswego author has dozens of book credits; the most recent is “Expecting to Die,” the seventh book in her Montana-based Selena Alvarez/Regan Pescoli series.

In Grizzly Falls, Detective Pescoli is working right up to her due date. The murder of two teenaged girls in the woods outside of town is putting her on edge, particularly since her own teenaged daughter discovered one of the bodies — after being chased through the woods by what she described as a monster.

The rumor mill has quickly turned this into a sasquatch sighting, and now a reality TV show is rolling into town.

Jackson is an expert at plot complications, and they abound in “Expecting to Die.” In addition to murder, you’ll find illicit affairs, teen pregnancies, a kidnapping and an ex-husband who’s a bum. It’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel on humanity. Or keep turning the pages, to find out what comes next.

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at bkmonger@nwlink.com



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