After ten years away, Keeley Carpenter is excited to be back in Belfrey, the traditional English village hometown she fled as a shy teen, with a plan to reopen her father’s neglected butcher shop as a yoga café, where she will sell delicious vegetarian food by day and teach yoga classes at night. However the more traditional residents of Belfrey do not take kindly to this idea-or really anything they deem even remotely “New Age-y.” Within an hour of her arrival, Keeley comes face to face with Detective Constable Ben Taylor, who tells her that someone has just tried to burn down her shop. When officers arrived to stop the blaze, a body was found upstairs. Horrified by this news, Keeley is also startled to be reintroduced to Ben as DC Taylor, as he was her high school crush. In spite of her instant attraction to him, Keeley is determined to keep Ben at arm’s length.
As she settles back in to Belfrey and makes plans for her opening day, she soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. When Keeley starts being threatened herself, she realizes someone may be out to kill more than her business prospects – but can she and Ben find the culprit before it’s too late?
This was a pretty good start to what could turn into an adorable cozy mysteries series. For Keeley, the moment she returns to Belfrey is supposed to be a momentous occasion with lots of hugs and friendly faces. Little does she know that while no one has forgotten the beloved butcher and his daughter, not many are as excited for her return as she is. In fact, she discovers her father’s butcher shop had a fire and a dead body just the day before and she’s a suspect. Of course, this is a short lived assumption as she has an alibi, but she finds herself in a whirlwind of mixed emotions as she struggles to reenter the small village life and begin working on preparing the shop for the grand opening of her Yoga Cafe.
The cast of characters within the small village offers a wide range of personalities and suspects. But for Keeley, the two people she has the hardest time dealing with are from her past, her first crush, Ben and her former best friend/turned mean girl, Raquel. It’s an interesting take on small town life and how everyone has a secret that they are willing to protect. For Keeley, this is just the beginning of uncovering the dark secrets that are hidden in her past as well as the rest of the town. I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on the vegan/yoga studio aspect of the story. But once you discover why Keeley made one of those things a part of her lifestyle, it began to feel more natural.
My only qualm about the book is the constant need to explain yoga breathing techniques at the end of the chapter. These should be listed in the back, not at the end of the chapter. The first time one appeared, it was placed awkwardly at the end of chapter and I thought I had missed something, until I realized what it was. To be fair, I have the same qualm with the cozy mysteries that list their recipes at the end of each chapter. Besides that, I found this to be an enjoyable read and I hope to be given the opportunity to read more about Keeley and Belfrey. The pacing was steady, the characters were entertaining and overall it was a perfect example of how a cozy mystery should be.
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Pick up your copy on Amazon: Downward Facing Death by Michelle Kelly