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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review: Dial Om For Murder by Diana Killian

Today I am reviewing a recently published book that is only the second in the series.  The Mantra for Murder mystery series has a Yoga studio as a main location, but the story is not overly yoga centered so anyone will enjoy this series.

Author: Diana Killian

Copyright: Nov 2009 (Berkely); 288 pgs.
Series: #2 in Mantra for Murder Mysteries

Sensuality: Tame
Mystery sub-genre: Cozy
Main Character: A.J. Alexander, recently inherited a Yoga Studio, Sacred Balance
Setting: Stillbrook, a small Northwest New Jersey town

Obtained book through: Library Find

A.J. has two celebrity clients at her yoga studio, Sacred Balance, that test her commitment to a peaceful and serene life. They appear to have personal grudges against each other and it carries into the yoga studio. In the midst of a particularly hectic day, diva actress Nicole insists that A.J. retrieve her left-behind cellular phone and hand deliver it to her house. A.J. reluctantly complies and finds Nicole dead in her home. A.J. insists she is not getting involved - she is absolutely under no circumstances investigating Nicole’s murder.

Then her ex-husband shows up on her doorstep limping and a bump on his head that he won’t explain and pleads for sanctuary and her mother cancels her Egyptian vacation and rushes home to aid A.J. in ferreting out the murderer. She gets dragged into investigating in spite of her good intentions. A.J. gets threats and even her very new relationship with the sheriff is at stake this time. But there is no stopping after the local newspaper calls her “the local Miss Marple” because the murderer has read that article too.

There are only a few people who could have had the time or motive to kill the diva actress so A.J. starts asking questions. It seems as though none of them could have done it, but somebody is lying. There is tension throughout the story with A.J.’s ongoing struggles with the co-manager of the Yoga studio and then complications with her policeman boyfriend over the case.
Stillbrook was the kind of village one might expect to find along the California coast. While it wasn’t precisely an artist’s colony, there was a strong arts and crafts element to the town. In addition to the art galleries and book stores, there were little bakeries and speciality shops. Several museums were within twenty minutes driving time, and the Mauch Chunk Opera House was less than an hour away. In the center of town, cute historic buildings circled and old-fashioned village green with a large pond and a bronze statue of a WWI soldier and a mule.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In her final letter, Aunt Diantha had written: Darling Girl, the blessings that I would bestow upon you are a joyful spirit and a heart at peace. A.J. didn’t know if she had actually achieved a joyful spirit and a heart at peace, but she realized she was coming to terms with the past – and that was a lot right there. Far too many people never had that much.

Though she had to admit, it was easier to hold onto this mildly nostalgic sense of peace and harmony with her mother safely out of the country on an Egyptian cruise, and Andy, A.J.’s ex, in New York, where she never had to see him or deal with his troubling desire to remain friends.
Good solid story with a nice plot that keeps you guessing as information is revealed. Characters are well portrayed and come to life with just the right mix of background data and struggles. A.J.’s mother, Elysia, ignores facts she doesn’t like and as a supporting character is half quirky and half aggravating for a dash of spice. A.J. is an enjoyable main character that most readers can identify with. She is level headed and vulnerable while gutsy. Even the ex-husband Andy adds to the story and shows that A.J.’s heart is in the right place. I actually like the “ex” and I feel Ms. Killian deserves kudos for how carefully this character has been developed

The big reveal was brought about smoothly and logically with the reader side-by-side with A.J. figuring it out. Although the murderer may have been suspected the reader will likely add the last piece at the same time as A.J. does.

I had read the first book in the series, Corpse Pose, but I think this book stands alone fine. I recommend the first book as well. This is a good example of the modern cozy for the reader who enjoys a younger heroine in a contemporary setting. Good story telling with just the right mix of murder plot, suspense, good characters and romantic potential. The book includes directions for the Sun Salutation morning Yoga routine and a healthy recipe.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Until next Monday and another author interview, I wish you many mysterious moments.
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Book Dilettante said...

Sounds like a good series with clever titles.

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