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By Diana Killian

BerkleyPrimeCrime, 2011 ($7.99)

ISBN-10: 0425243818
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-24381-7 Kindle Edition $7.99

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

A.J. Alexander is happier than she's ever been, running the yoga studio she inherited from her Aunt Diantha in the small town of Stillbrook, New Jersey. She doesn't miss her high-pressure job in the city at all, the studio is prospering, and her relationship with Jake, a hunky homicide detective, seems poised to go to the next level. That's what her friends and her mother believe, anyway.

Mommy dearest is visiting town with the two co-stars in her new television series, a geriatric version of Charlie's Angels. She's also brought along her much-younger fiancé, Dean, much to A.J.'s shock. Mommy's not the only one robbing the cradle: their attorney, Bradley Meagher, is snuggling up to Sarah, a sweet young thing from the Midwest. If that's not enough to shake A.J.'s peaceful world, several cows have been slaughtered by an unknown critter, and rumors of the Jersey Devil, a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens, start circulating again. Also, there's a new preacher in town, the very handsome and charismatic David Goode, and he's spreading the word that yoga is a tool of the devil and those who teach and practice it are doomed to Hell. Meanwhile, Oriel, his plain, retiring wife, is making the rounds of the yoga studios, taking lessons with guest passes, unbeknownst to hubby.

Lily Martin, the former manager of Sacred Balance under Aunt Diantha's reign, is now managing another studio, and she's afraid this bad publicity will hurt everyone's business and put her job in peril. She tries to enlist A.J. in banding together with the other studios and hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on the Rev. Goode to discredit him. A.J. prefers a more civil approach, but when she tries to reason with Goode he tosses her out of his home. Lily takes the direct approach and has a public shouting match with him.

Rev. Goode has a shock when the Jersey Devil tries to break into his house. He claims it's a sign from God that those evil yogis and yoginis need to mend their ways or suffer the consequences. When he is found murdered, Lily is at the top of the suspect list. Despite some bad feelings between her and A.J., she pleads with A.J. to use her sleuthing skills to clear her name. Elysia and her partners in faux crime-solving offer their help as well. Jake doesn't approve, but that doesn't stop them. A.J. promises to be careful, and she is, mostly. With A.J., the Golden Gumshoes, Lily's private eye, and the police on the case, a very large pile of dirt is dug up on the Rev. Goode, who was not a nice man at all.

And what about the Jersey Devil? You'll just have to read the book and find out where he fits in. This is the fourth in A Mantra for Murder series, and it is even better than the previous three. Killian offers some yoga tips and tasty and healthy recipes as an added bonus.

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