Six months after solving her friend’s murder, commitment-challenged Kate Davidson has recovered from her injuries and settled into a relatively calm life with rambunctious German shepherd Bella. Now, if only her relationship with boyfriend, Michael, would slow down to match her laid-back yogic lifestyle…
When Kate gets an offer to trade teaching yoga for a weeklong stay at a newly reopened vegan retreat center, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center’s two caretakers. Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate’s problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, shortly after a loud, public (and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate.
The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she’s forced to join forces with Michael, best friend Rene, and sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they’ll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime—behind bars.
Please welcome Tracy Weber to WWK. E. B. Davis
First, a geography lesson is necessary. Tracy, please tell our readers about the San Juan Islands, and Orcas (whales?) Island, where you set Killer Retreat.
Thanks so much for having me here today on Writers Who Kill! The San Juan Islands are an archipelago (now there’s your word for the day!) off the Northwest corner of Washington. An archipelago is a string or grouping of islands. Horseshoe-shaped Orcas is the largest of the San Juan Islands. According to Wikepedia, “the name ‘Orcas’ is a shortened form of Horcasitas, or Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, the Viceroy of Mexico who sent an exploration expedition under Francisco de Eliza to the Pacific Northwest in 1791.” Wow! What a mouthful!
However it was named, Orcas is simply gorgeous. It is only accessible by ferry, and the island is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bald eagles, and harbor seals. A little over 4000 people live on Orcas, and it is home to several wonderful retreat centers that inspired Elysian Springs, the setting for A Killer Retreat. My husband and I go there any chance we get.
Your main character, Kate, enjoys the sunny October weather, but she makes note that another may not occur until August. I knew the Puget Sound area wasn’t known for its sunny skies, but one sunny day in ten months?
Honestly, the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest have changed in the past few years, so Kate’s exaggeration is a little out of date. Seattle’s usual fall-through-spring pattern of gray skies and misty rain are slowly being replaced by significant downpours, thunderstorms, and the occasional bright blue sky. Exaggeration or not, however when a Pacific Northwesterner gets a sunny, warm day between October and July, she doesn’t waste it.
What is an Elwha?
I’m honestly not sure what the word “Elwha” means, but one of the ferries that sails to Orcas is named The Elwha. In fact, that’s the ferry I rode when I traveled to Orcas for my research. Having Kate take the same boat seemed poetic somehow. The Elwha is also the name of a forty-five mile river on the Olympic Peninsula.
Michael, Kate’s boyfriend, offensively revokes Kate’s phone privileges. Then, he accuses Kate of having control issues. Does he?
We all do, to a certain extent, don’t you think? Kate can be obsessive, and packing for the trip brings out all of her worst OCD tendencies. She worried about Bella, Bella’s food, the yoga studio, her friend Rene, and her relationship with Michael. By the time Michael locks the phone in the glove box, he’s been listening to Kate stress out for at least ninety minutes. When he grabs the phone, he has two conflicting impulses: lock the phone in the glove box or toss it in Puget Sound. Kate should be grateful he chose option 1.
Bandit, a Jack Russell terrier, upsets Bella, Kate’s 100-pound German Shepard with a delicate
Not many, fortunately, but when I do it’s often memorable. I own a 100-pound German shepherd who’s not much different from Bella, except that she’s ten years old and has four bad legs and a bad back. Unfortunately, people think it’s funny when their small dogs attack her or larger dogs jump on her wanting to play. In both cases, Tasha could easily be hurt.
I’m a certifiable dog nut, so I know it’s not the other dog’s fault. In fact, if people simply obeyed the leash laws, there would be no problem whatsoever. Still, my dog is fragile. When an off-leash dog charges us, my only option is to scare it away. I may only be five-foot two, but when I’m defending Tasha, I make Kate look like a sweetheart.
Eden’s restaurant has a vegan menu. Do you eat a vegan diet? What is a vegan diet (opposed to a vegetarian diet)?
I’ve been a vegetarian for over twenty years, but I don’t eat completely vegan. Basically, I don’t eat anything that had a mother: no eggs, no fish, no chicken. But I do eat cheese occasionally, and I don’t scrutinize bread labels.
Vegans don’t consume any products that were obtained from animals, including all meat, dairy, leather, silk, feathers, even honey. In terms of animals and the planet, it’s a very compassionate way of life. And healthy, to boot!
One day I’ll take the plunge and become a true vegan.
Kate does have issues with anger, setting herself up as murder suspect number one, after uttering threats at the victim. What unnerves her so much?
We’ll come to understand some of Kate’s neuroses in the next book, titled Karma’s a Killer. For now, suffice it to say that Kate has a past, and that past has created the woman she is today. But then again, isn’t that true for all of us?
Kate’s best friend, Rene, and her husband Sam show up to share the cabin. They are having relationship/communication problems. Rene wants Kate to intervene. Why doesn’t Kate tell her to solve her own problems?
Kate and Rene have been interfering in each other’s lives since they were teenagers. Rene rarely asks for much from Kate, so when she asks Kate to help her with Sam, Kate knows the request is important. Kate would never turn down a friend in need, no matter how much she wants to.
Emmy and Josh, the engaged couple and the retreat owners, invite their family to Eden for the wedding. The bride’s parents are divorced, and their subsequent relationships cause trouble. Bruce is a fascinating character—Emmy’s physician father, who doesn’t always follow the rules. What motivates Bruce to jeopardize his medical license?
Bruce is obviously not thinking very clearly in the story. He is sleep deprived, and occasionally even intoxicated. His ex-wife and his current wife don’t get along, and he’s afraid—with good reason—that their fighting will ruin his daughter’s wedding. Bruce obviously doesn’t exercise good judgment, but that isn’t surprising. After all, look who he chose to marry.
After Kate is accused of murder, she obtains a lawyer. Dale Evans, the lawyer, is also a wonderful character. Why is he a goat man, and what delicious products does Kate sample?
Thank you! I’m quite fond of Dale, too. Dale reveals why he left his former life behind to rescue goats in the book, and I don’t want to give anything away. However I will say that I’m living vicariously through Dale. I love goats, and one of my goals is to eventually have several of my own. As for products, Dale is quite a baker, and he loves using goat milk and goat cheese in all of his recipes. So even though she’s staying at a vegan retreat center, Kate gets to sample lots of delicious goat cheese pastries.
What’s next for Kate?
In my next book, Karma’s a Killer, Kate agrees to teach Doga (yoga for dogs) at a fundraiser for a local animal rescue, only to witness a violent argument between two strangers. One is a very important person from Kate’s past who she hasn’t seen in over three decades. The second stranger is murdered that same day.
Kate, Michael, Rene, and Bella each have a role in solving the murder, but that’s not the only mystery in the story. The biggest enigma Kate struggles to understand is herself. You’ll have to read the story to find out the specifics. ;-) Suffice it to say, at least two of Kate’s neuroses will make a lot more sense by the end of the book.
As always, animals play major roles. Not only Bella, but her nemesis Bandit, a crow named Blackie, and a pigeon named Mister Feathers. Goats, cats, and two barred owls also make notable appearances. Researching this story was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to share with my readers.
Why cider instead of beer?
I like the semidry bubbly taste of cider versus the more filling, bitter taste of beer. However have to admit that I’m starting to enjoy drinking nonalcoholic beers. How lame does that make me?
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink.
Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.