In this excerpt, Kate takes crazy-dog Bella for an ill-conceived walk. The scene shows the often lighter tone of the book and hints at the relationship developing between Kate and Bella. Kate has been daydreaming when she should have been paying attention to Bella
I should have known better than to let my attention wander. But in my defense, it wasn’t a dog or even a bearded man this time, and I couldn’t be prepared for everything. Right in front of us, slightly to the right, waddled a male mallard duck. Evidently, in Bella-speak, the word “duck” meant delicious.
Bella roared with delight. She went after that mischievous mallard like a cheetah after a gazelle, completely forgetting she had a human deadweight attached to her leash.
I wasn’t a very effective anchor. Dogs can pull two-and-a-half times their weight. So, at eighty pounds, Bella could easily pull 200 pounds of yoga teacher. Chunky thighs or not, I was nowhere near that weight. And Bella had an advantage—she was pulling me off the cliff.
Off we went, after that damned duck, over the embankment. I slid, bumping along the ground, hanging on to Bella’s leash with all my strength. One large crashing “oomph!” into the dirt, and I lost hold. Bella took off running, much faster now that she didn’t have to drag her 130-pound burden. I continued rolling down the hill, straight toward the water below.
I felt each and every bruise assault my body and prayed no bones were breaking. A few feet from water’s edge I came to a sudden stop—by smashing into a tree. An insane thought whipped through my mind right before impact. Isn’t this how Sonny Bono died?
Stunned, I lay there, afraid to move. Part of me wanted Bella to keep running and never come back. Part of me wanted to catch her so I could strangle her. Then, the logical, responsible part of me realized what I’d done. I’d dropped the leash. Bella was out there on her own, without anyone to protect her from herself. What if she went after another dog? What if she got hit by a car? What if she saw Santa again?
The first step in finding her was getting up. Easier said than done. I slowly wiggled my toes and began the other small movements typically suggested at the end of yoga class. I rolled my shoulders, turned my head, and moved my legs. Nothing seemed broken—so far.
A blond, twenty-something biker called to me from the trail. “Oh my God! Do you need help? Should I call an ambulance?”
The answer was yes. Of course I needed help. As for the ambulance, it could whisk me off to the insane asylum, which was exactly where I belonged for agreeing to care for this hound-from-Hell.
“I’m OK, but thanks. Did you see where the dog went?”
He looked around. “No, sorry. Hang on. I’ll come down and help you get up.”
Over my “I-wish-I-were-dead” body.
I was beyond embarrassed, and I wanted to lick my ego’s wounds in private. I certainly didn’t want that cute biker to see me flat on my back—at least not this way. What if my hair was messed up? What if I had mud on my face? What if the butt was ripped out of my jeans?
“I’m fine, but thanks. You can go. I appreciate your help.”
My Good Samaritan looked unconvinced, but he climbed back on his bike and rode away. Now for the real challenge. How was I going to get up? And if I did, how on earth would I find Bella? I groaned and covered my face with my hands. Even if I made it back to the trail, Santa would just sue me for Bella’s soon-to-be dog mauling. I lay back down with a heavy sigh, closed my eyes, and resolved to let nature take its course.
A creature the size of a water buffalo came crashing through the brush, skidded to a stop next to me, and shook itself dry. Water flew through the air like a sprinkler system on high. Bella looked incredibly, insanely proud of herself. She danced, wiggled, pranced, and play-bowed, ears cocked forward with a huge doggy grin on her face.
Did you see me? Did you see me? She looked like a kid on a bike yelling, “Look, Ma, no hands!”
She suddenly stopped, staring at me curiously and cocking her head to the side. The look on her face clearly asked:Why in the heck are you lying here on the ground?
I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to shake her. In fact, I think it’s fair to say I wanted to kill her. But my sense of relief was too profound. Instead, I wrapped my arms around her neck, hugged her with all my might, and sobbed into her wet fur. “Thank God you came back, Bella. Goooood girl.
When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
“Cozy fans will eagerly await the next installment.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Murder Strikes a Pose, by Tracy Weber, is a delightful debut novel featuring Kate Davidson, a caring but feist yoga teacher . . . Namaste to Weber and her fresh, new heroine!” —PENNY WARNER,AUTHOR OFHOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE
“[T]his charming debut mystery . . . pieces together a skillful collage of mystery, yoga, and plenty of dog stories against the unique backdrop of Seattle characters and neighborhoods. The delightful start of a promising new series. I couldn’t put it down!” —WAVERLY FITZGERALD, AUTHOR OF DIAL C FOR CHIHUAHUA
“Three woofs for Tracy Weber’s first Downward Dog Mystery, Murder STrikes a Pose. Great characters, keep-you-guessing plot, plenty of laughs, and dogs—what more could we want? Ah, yes—the next book!” —SHEILA WEBSTER BONEHAM, AUTHOR OF DROP DEAD ON RECALL
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Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
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