death at the yoga cafe book coverReviewed by Maria Tews

I was pleasantly surprised by A Death at the Yoga Cafe by Michelle Kelly, and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Initially, I was a little skeptical about the premise of a detective mystery in a yoga cafe, and there was something about the cover of the book with its shelves of fruit kebabs and parfaits that just put me off. I was expecting a cheesy, unrealistic story but I am happy to say that the book exceeded all of my expectations.

Keeley Carpenter is the young business owner of a yoga cafe in the (mostly) quiet village town of Befrey, England. Unfortunately, Befrey was the home of a murder that took place in Keeley’s own cafe several months ago and made her the main suspect. These unlucky circumstances forced Keeley to investigate (and ultimately solve) the murder, and this is the main story line of the previous book in the Keeley Carpenter series, Downward Facing Death (love the wordplay!). Despite being a sequel, A Death at the Yoga Cafe does perfectly well at being a stand-alone novel, and its plot revolves around the cold-blooded stabbing of the honorable Town Mayor Gerald, whose death sheds light on some of the shadier aspects of his seemingly perfect life. Suspicion falls on Raquel, the mayor’s spiteful, gold-digging ex-girlfriend, after she has a public quarrel with the mayor only hours before his death. Keeley’s natural talent for solving mysteries leads to Raquel begging for her help and despite the two ladies’ turbulent relationship, Keeley agrees to look into the murder. As her investigation progresses from light-hearted poking and listening to cafe gossip to interviews with potential murder suspects and a final terrifying stand-off with the murderer, Keeley realizes that the case is much more personal than she thought and that it threatens her perception of her mother, her relationship with her boyfriend, and even her life.

Throughout my literary career, I’ve read many detective stories but this book has truly been the first of its kind for me. I thought it did a great job of challenging the traditional elements and setup of a murder mystery, and I ended up loving the yoga cafe as the setting because it gave the story a homey feel. The author’s well-chosen sprinklings of yoga wisdom throughout the novel were also a nice “twist”.

One concern that I had before starting the book was that Keeley would be a one-dimensional character with nothing more than her yogi abilities to define her, but she was likable and empathetic as a protagonist. Keeley was well-rounded and dynamic, and readers will be able to relate to the many real-life struggles she faces such as her issues with body image and self-confidence, and her complicated relationship with her mother. I loved how there were many memorable characters and potential murder suspects, and the novel kept me guessing until the very end. There were several different people who each had very good backstories and reasons for murdering the mayor, but the final reveal was a complete surprise! The ending was absolutely the best part of the book for me—I was scared for Keeley and shocked by the murderer, but I desperately kept on reading because I needed to know what would happen! A Death At The Yoga Cafe was a unique page-turner that I really got into (in spite of my early reservations about the book), and I highly recommend that you take a stab at it as well!

Maria Tews is a high school student in Northeastern Connecticut. Maria loves reading, writing, and a hot cup of tea.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.