“A polished, confident whodunit brimming with personality and the right amount of intrigue and mayhem.” – Kirkus Reviews


Vee Kumari grew up in India. She loved to read, and often used it to avoid her mother, who might want her to do a chore or two. It was her mother who directed her to use the dictionary to learn the meanings of new words and construct sentences with them. Vee wanted to become an English professor but went to medical school instead.

Upon coming to the US, Vee obtained a doctorate in anatomy. She became a faculty member at the UC Davis Medical Center, where she worked for over 35 years, and later worked for the Keck School of Medicine for five years. Teaching neuroanatomy to medical students became her passion. She published many scientific papers and won several teaching awards. 

When she retired in 2012, she took classes from The Gotham Writers’ Workshop and UCLA Writers Program. Dharma, A Rekha Rao Mystery is her debut fiction that incorporates her observations on the lives of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the US.

Vee lives in Burbank and is also an actor who has appeared in TV shows, including Criminal Minds and Glow, and produced and was the lead in a short film, Halwa, which garnered the first prize in HBO’s 2019 Asian Pacific American Visionaries (APAV) contest.

She is at work on her next novel about an Indian immigrant family whose American dream shatters when one of their twin daughters goes missing.


Rekha Rao, a thirty-something Indian American professor of art history, is disillusioned by academia and haunted by the murder of her father. She believes police convicted the wrong person, and moves away from her match-making family. 

She’s focused on managing her PTSD and healing her heart, broken by an abusive boyfriend. She gets entangled in a second murder, that of her mentor and father figure. The murder weapon, an idol of the Hindu goddess Durga, is left behind on the body. Detective Al Newton asks her to look into the relationship, if any, between the meaning of the statue and the motive for the murder.

Rekha is attracted to Al but steers clear of him because of her distaste for cops and fear of a new relationship. The two constantly clash, starting a love-hate relationship. Meanwhile, her family sets her up to meet a suitor, an Indian attorney. When police arrest one of her students and accuse her mentor of idol theft, Rekha is left with no other choice but to look for the killer on her own. 

Despite admonitions from Al and bodily harm caused by an intruder, Rekha finds the killer, and in the process, emerges from the cocoon of a protected upbringing to taste the prospect of romance and discover her true identity.


2019 Chanticleer International Book Awards M&M Mystery & Mayhem Award Semi-Finalist

“Rekha, a domestic violence survivor with PTSD, is a well-developed lead more than capable of sustaining a series. Kumari is off to a strong start.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A murder mystery set against an intriguing backdrop of Indian mysticism and archaeology makes this a very good pick. Dharma, A Rekha Rao Mystery may also provide some readers with a glimpse into the rich religious history of India’s gods, rich mythology at least as rich to American readers as the more familiar Greco-Roman gods and goddesses. It’s one of the hidden treats that makes this novel an enjoyable read for mystery lovers everywhere.”
– Chanticleer Reviews
Rating: 5/5 star

“Dharma is a lively story about duty, discovery, and growth as much as it is a murder mystery steeped in Indian tradition, yet set in Los Angeles. It will please those seeking strong characterization that drives an underlying story of intrigue and revelation.” 
– Midwest Book Review