Razor-sharp intersecting plotlines keep the pace of this distinctive mystery briskly moving forward. Ex-cop and P.I. Scotia MacKinnon is an irresistible blend of hard-nose and soft center. She lives alone on a houseboat and has a grown daughter plus a couple of ex-husbands. Her current significant other comes with his own complications. Luckily, there's a mystery man waiting in the wings.

When Scotia uncharacteristically takes a week to relax and practice yoga on an island not far from her own Pacific Northwest home, she runs into trouble. Her vacation quickly becomes a new case when the increasingly violent conflict between retreat owners and islanders escalates.

Superb writer Duncan wastes no words; her details are abundant yet precise. And Scotia's a heroine to love: She's quick-witted and courageous while still remaining touchingly human. (Aug., 256 pp., $5.99)
Reviewed by: 
Cindy Harrison