Book review: Mindful of Murder by Susan Juby
This summer, Richmond Public Library invites the community to read and talk about Mindful of Murder, a brand-new, humorous mystery novel by award-winning BC author, Susan Juby. Ms. Juby, a Vancouver Island resident, has won numerous awards and accolades for her teen and adult titles, including the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 2016. Recently, the CBC highlighted Mindful of Murder as one of 22 books to read for International Women’s Day.
On July 27 at 7 p.m. the library is excited to host a live, virtual presentation with Susan Juby. There will also be a librarian-led discussion on Facebook throughout July. Visit RPL’s Adult Summer Reading website at for more information on these events.
What’s this new book about? Mindful of Murder opens with the death of Edna Todd, the owner of the Yatra Institute, a New Age retreat located on Sutil Island in British Columbia. Edna, a healthy and active 72-year-old, realizes that something is horribly wrong after taking her nightly mineral supplements. She draws her last breath as a mysterious person watches from the bedroom doorway.
The calm and collected Helen Thorpe, who was previously Edna’s employee, has just completed butler training and has a job lined up with a wealthy family. In keeping with Edna’s will, Helen returns to Sutil Island to help determine which of Edna’s relatives should take over the Institute. Over nine days, the four relatives are required to take the Institute’s most popular courses, including flower arranging, dance and meditation. Helen, at one time a Buddhist nun, must not only judge who is most worthy to run the retreat, it falls to her to investigate what happened to Edna.
The flower arranging and dance instructors are hilarious, and the relatives are sneaky, pretentious, and overwhelmed as they participate in classes intended to promote inner growth and personal transformation. Luckily, Helen’s two butler friends insist on coming to help her, and she hires Nigel, an inexperienced young man who wears strong cologne and outrageous clothes.
The description of island life will bring fond memories to those that have visited British Columbia’s Gulf Islands–Ms. Juby acknowledges that the Yatra Institute is inspired by the Hollyhock Leadership Learning Centre on Cortes Island and, like Hollyhock, the book explores spiritual development, personal transformation, wellness, and creativity.
The novel is a mystery, with a little romance, a bit of spirituality and lots of funny moments. It’s a great summer read that will make you laugh while you try to guess who did it.
For details, and to find out about other summer reading activities for adults, teens, and children, check out the library’s website.
Dinise Sizer is Reference Librarian at the Brighouse branch of the Richmond Public Library.