4 out of 5 stars.
Today, I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Death by Chocolate Lab which is the first book in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series by Bethany Blake. The book was a great read and a good start to a new series.
Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.
Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.
Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?
For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. It’s the first in a new series and a solid, delightful start to the series. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because a) it didn’t have that extra pizzazz that I look for in a 5-star book and b) the heroine annoyed me at times with her tendency to just go full steam ahead into something without thinking about it first (which is something that *REALLY* tends to bother me in cozies).
Outside of that, this is a great book. The characters are solid, developed and complex. We know there are things about the various characters that we don’t know yet, but that makes them interesting and not boring.
The setting descriptions were okay. I could imagine the farm and each individual location but I couldn’t really see in my head where they were in relation to each other. Part of that could be my own spatial relations deficiency, but I think the descriptions of the places could have been a little more detailed.
The story moved along at a good pace. It wasn’t slow but it wasn’t so fast that you couldn’t keep up with what was happening. The villain was a complete surprise to me, which I like. I totally did not see that plot twist coming!
All in all, this is a great start to the series and I do recommend it. I’ve already pre-ordered the second one myself!
About the Author
Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and operates a pet sitting business called Barkley’s Premium Pet Care.
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