Monday, April 07, 2008

Corpse Pose - Diana Killian

Corpse Pose
A Mantra for Murder Mystery
Diana Killian
Berkley Prime Crime


A.J. Alexander is in the middle of a client’s book launch party, taking calls and wondering why her longed-for career isn’t making her happy, when she gets a call that changes everything. It’s a detective on the line, which is never a good thing. He’s calling to tell her that her Aunt Di is dead, and it looks like murder. Di was discovered in her yoga studio, Sacred Balance. Along with the studio, Di put out books, a clothing line, skin care products, and owned a good amount of real estate. To her amazement, A.J. is the beneficiary of all of this.

Traveling with her mother, Elysia, a British TV actress, to Di’s home is more difficult than A.J. expected. Not least because her mother is quite fond of dramatizing situations that really don’t need the extra help. Arriving at Di’s home, A.J. is knocked down at the door by a fleeing figure. When the police arrive, they’re clearly skeptical. When they ask A.J. for her alibi for the time of Di’s death, it’s completely clear that A.J. is a prime suspect. Elysia is off the hook, since she was out of the country at the time. That doesn’t stop her from inserting herself into the investigation, however, citing her stint on a mystery television series as her sleuthing credentials.

At the reading of the will, Aunt Di’s generosity becomes even more apparent. Apart from a few other bequests, A.J. is, indeed, left the majority of Di’s estate, including the Sacred Balance studio. Since the police knew this almost from the start, A.J. assumed it was common knowledge. The reaction of Lily, a self-proclaimed “top instructor” at the studio, puts the lie to that assumption; Lily is visibly furious and claims that the studio should be hers. She vows to break the will. When A.J. is really run down in the street, it’s clear that someone really doesn’t want her taking over for Di. It’s up to A.J. to figure out who, and why.

This is an excellent beginning to what promises to be a solid and very entertaining series. The character of Elysia is eccentric, to be sure, but never crosses the line into slapstick. There’s humor here, but it never overshadows the central mystery. The author takes great care to draw the characters as complex people with real feelings who react realistically to the murder. The plot takes several interesting turns and will keep readers guessing – and turning pages – until the final denouement. This is the kind of story that began my interest in mysteries: great setting, engrossing story, plenty of suspects, and characters to care about. I look forward for more from this talented author.

Rating: 8
April 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22090-0 (paperback)


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