Title: KARMA’S A KILLER
Author: Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
A fun, fresh, feisty new mystery featuring Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her trusty canine companion Bella, Karma’s a Killer is a taut tale with more twists and turns than a vinyasa yoga class. In this charming, clever and utterly captivating cozy mystery, Kate Davidson discovers that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like om.
When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems… The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them. And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with the estranged mother who abandoned her over thirty years ago. Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?
The shouts that drowned out Maggie’s words were impassioned, if a little misguided.
“Break down the cages!”
“Close the dog warehouses!”
“Animal ownership is slavery!”
Over twenty people, all wearing black shirts with orange flame insignias, cut a swath across the grass, waving picket signs and yelling at top volume.
Two teenage girls held onto opposite ends of a banner that read “Humans for Ethical Animal Treatment. Turn up the HEAT!”
Raven—the younger woman I’d seen arguing behind the paddle boats earlier—marched next to them holding a sign in one hand and a leash attached to the neck of a handsome, thirtyish, olive-skinned man in the other. Eduardo, I assumed. I shaded my eyes with my hand and examined the object of the two women’s confrontation.
Even from a distance, I could understand his appeal. With broad shoulders, deep cocoa eyes, and wavy black hair that curled under his ear lobes, this man would easily make more than one woman’s heart go atwitter. His one glaring fault was the sandpaper-thick layer of dark stubble covering the lower half of his face. No amount of shaving would keep that beard-in-the-making under control. Even thinking about it made my skin itch.
His dark leather jacket and matching motorcycle boots contrasted hypocritically with the sign that he carried: “Animals Are Sentient Beings, Not Possessions!” His face wore a trapped, agonized expression, though that might have been part of the show.
I scanned the area behind him, looking for Dharma and Goth Girl. I didn’t see either.
The dog walkers stopped talking, stared at the ruckus, and scowled. No one seemed to be having fun anymore, which was probably the protestor’s intention. A short, rail-thin young woman stomped away from the picket line, knocked a hot dog out of a child’s hand, and yelled, “Meat is murder!”
Michael pulled out his cell phone. “That’s it. I’m calling the police.”
Maggie closed her eyes and sighed. “I can’t believe she’s actually going through with this.”
“You know one of them?” I asked
She shuddered, but her eyes never left the protesters. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. Sally, take Mrs. Abernathy to the pet first aid tent and …”
Her voice trailed off. She glanced left and right. “Where on earth did Sally go?”
The Bunny Lady wrinkled her nose, ill humor back in full force. “Sally left a few minutes ago, which is exactly what I should have done. You obviously don’t have control over this fiasco.” She slipped the rabbit into her bag and stomped several feet away before turning back to spit out two final sentences. “Don’t bother cashing that check I gave you earlier. I’m putting a stop payment on it as soon as I get home!”
Maggie cradled her face in her hands. “Can this day get any worse?”
She shouldn’t have asked.
The words barely escaped her lips when Dale’s head jerked up. “Do you smell that?”
I did. I would have recognized that smell anywhere. Gasoline.
I heard a loud swoosh, punctuated by a louder explosion. New, significantly more frightening, words rang out across the field.
“Fire! Somebody help! The garbage cans are on fire!”
Dale’s face turned as white as his beard.
“Oh no! The goats!”
Michael and Maggie ran toward the registration desk, while Dale, Bandit, and I tore off to the petting area. Picketers and dog walkers scattered in every direction.
By the time we rounded the corner, the fire was already spreading. Hot yellow flames licked from the recycle bins to the loose hay surrounding the petting area. Within seconds, the entire line of straw bales had ignited, creating a flaming, Hades-like fence.
The teenage volunteers had already rushed the children outside the fenced area, but the goats were still trapped, huddled together in the corner farthest away from the fire. Michael skidded to a stop behind me and blasted the straw bales with an extinguisher, but the fire was spreading too fast. He may as well have been spraying the Towering Inferno with a garden hose.
Dale tossed Bandit’s leash to a gawker. The blond volunteer held the gate open while his brother, Dale, and I scrambled inside. Michael kept spraying the extinguisher, holding the flames back as best he could.
The goats refused to move.
“Force them to the entrance,” Dale yelled.
I channeled my inner Goth Girl, waved my arms, and yelled. “Go you stupid goats! Run! Get out of here!”
The three of us screamed and clapped and pushed and stomped, until the terrified animals bolted from the enclosure and charged into the park, straight past the onlookers, who were too transfixed by the flames to do anything but watch.
Dale gathered the final fear-frozen spotted kid in his arms and carried it away from the flames. Sirens wailed in the distance.
“Get the truck,” he said to the blond teen. He handed the baby goat to the other.
It seemed like a century passed, but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before firemen started dousing the area with cold water. Dale kept a watchful eye on his skittish herd, huddled several hundred feet away. A few people broke off from the crowd and tried to approach them. “Stay back!” Dale yelled. “Just block them from the road. And for lands sake, don’t chase them.”
Michael came up behind us. “Shouldn’t we try to round them up somehow?”
Dale’s expression was grim. “They’re too riled up. Give them a few minutes to calm down. They’ll come to me.” His voice didn’t sound confident.
The blond teen drove a livestock truck onto the field and parked. He jumped out of the cab, opened the back, and pulled down a wide ramp. Dale grabbed a metal pail from inside and filled it with grain from a five-gallon bucket.
“Hope this works,” he muttered.