Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Series: Mantra for Murder Mystery #1
Type: Adult Cozy Mystery
Since A.J. Alexander's husband left her for another man she's been feeling lost, but when her favourite Aunt Di is found brutally murdered A.J. seizes the opportunity to escape her Manhattan lifestyle for rural New Jersey. Diantha was a successful yoga guru with a lucrative yoga studio, but her strong opinions and determination to see her wishes carried out caused a lot of tension within the town of Stillbrook. A.J. soon finds herself under suspicion from a hunky local detective, so she decides to limber up and track down the killer herself.
As a fan of both cozy mysteries and yoga I have no idea why this sat on my TBR heap for over a year before I finally got to it. I absolutely loved this book, and am now kicking myself for not reading it before. A.J. is a great lead character who is believable and realistic, and who is a yoga novice (like me). She hasn't seen her aunt for a few years before the murder due to some tension with A.J.'s now ex husband, which means the reader gets to familiarise themselves with the setting of the book along with A.J. herself.
I also found A.J.'s British ex-actress mother Elysia to be well written and hilarious. The British slang and terms of endearment (e.g. 'Pet') also seeemed normal, unlike many books by US writers who get this horribly wrong. The hunky Detective Jake Oberlin is great as the police character who always shows up in cozies - thankfully he is well written (no cookie cutter characters here) and the only possible romantic interest in the book. A.J.'s ex husband Andy does appear in the book, but this doesn't come anywhere near the often tedious love triangles that are becoming more commonplace in cozies.
The mystery is well developed with gradual clues that I didn't put together until the very last minute. There are also several plot twists that I didn't see coming, and also lots of mini stories going on at the same time - like what is happening between Detective Oberlin and A.J.'s dog when her back is turned? The only thing that affected my enjoyment of the book was a couple of mistakes that had slipped past the editors (a neighbour lives both a mile and five miles away, and a chai latte suddenly becomes a cup of tea), but these were minor and rare (I only noticed the two).
All in all a fabulous cozy read that I thoroughly recommend to fans of cozy mysteries, yoga or both! I'm looking forward to reading Dial Om for Murder.