Neal Pollack’s new novel, Downward Facing Death, is most likely the first “yoga murder mystery” novel ever written. Not only is this a new feat in the “yoga fiction” genre, but it’s making headlines for being a book publishing innovation.
Pollack is best known to literary crowds for The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature and best known to yoga peeps as the author of the memoir Stretch, as well as for his posts on the Yoga Journal Buzz blog. He also writes for The New York Times, Wired, Slate and Vanity Fair, among many other publications, and is a roller derby announcer in his home of Austin, Texas.
Given his eclectic background and apparent limitless creativity, it’s not surprising that Pollack would venture into the murder mystery genre. Here’s how Amazon described the book:
Blessed with uncanny deductive skills and a blasé disregard for authority, Matt Bolster was a rising LAPD homicide detective by the age of thirty-five. He was also overworked, divorced, near-alcoholic, and miserable. Then, to impress a girl, he agreed to try yoga. And with a single savasana, everything changed.
Now Bolster has traded his badge and gun for a scraggly beard and the life of an itinerant yoga teacher, dabbling in P.I. work to make rent. He mostly handles missing-persons cases, credit-card fraud – nothing too messy. But that’s before Ajoy Chaterjee, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s leading yoga-business empires, is found murdered inside his West L.A. flagship studio. Bolster knows the LAPD doesn’t have a prayer of cracking the secrets of the yoga world. But he does, and he really needs the dough.
Of course, sticking to the principles of the yamas and niyamas during a murder investigation isn’t easy, especially with so many hot women among the suspects. But personal ethics will be the least of Bolster’s problems if the killer finds him first.
A billionaire yoga mogul! Yamas and niyamas! Only somebody who knows yoga could write about it like this.
In the first episode, “Matt Bolster visits the gruesome crime scene as he joins the LAPD in their investigation into Ajoy Chatterjee’s untimely demise. Bolster quickly discovers he’s going to have to work hard to maintain his inner peace as he traverses the dark underbelly of the LA yoga scene.” Continuing episodes will be released monthly and will respond to feedback from readers.
Not only is Downward Facing Death putting a new twist on the yoga literary canon – it marks a 21st century approach to book publishing. It’s one of eight serialized novels for the Kindle launched last week by Amazon. Serialized publishing was popular in the 19th century, when novels were released chapter by chapter in newspapers and magazines. Charles Dickens’ career started with serialized stories, and many of his novels, including Oliver Twist, were published in this format.
While it evokes the publishing scene of 200 years ago, the serialized novel is incredibly relevant to modern times. “[It’s] perfect for contemporary book culture, where writers interact with their readers directly and books can be delivered with an immediacy that the old pulp writers never could have imagined,” Pollack told The Guardian.
Downward Facing Death is available for $1.99 – the first installment downloads instantly and subsequent episodes will be released.