Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake

Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake
Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery, book 1
Publisher: Kensington Mystery
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint lakeside village of Sylvan Creek in the Pocono Mountains. 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.

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A romance–sort of–, a murder, and a bunch of dogs.

There is a lot going on in this book. Like I said in the introduction, there’s a murder or two, a romance (kind of) and a bunch of dogs. Now that’s simplifying the story way down. There’s more than just those elements. If you’re into cozy mysteries with animals in them, then this one delivers on the animal front. Socrates, the basset, is a riot.

The writing in this story is a tad…cumbersome. It’s not bad writing, but there is a lot more detail than maybe needed to be shown as it really slowed down the pacing in the first 3/4 of the book. I realize this is the first in the series and some build up needs to be done, but at times, it really slowed the book.

Then there are the characters. I wanted to root for them. I did. Daphne seemed funky and fun at first, but there were times when I wondered how anyone would get herself into these situations. She’s supposed to be a businesswoman–she has a pet sitting business–but she’s unreliable. She never has any gas in her vehicle and always seems to be late going place. Then there’s her ability to never have money, yet she’s always doing something that involves someone else paying or her getting freebies. It’s cute at first, but after a while, seemed a bit sophomoric. She has a romance of sorts going with Dylan and it really did feel too much like him being strung along. As a romance reader, I wasn’t impressed, but this is a cozy, so the back and forth was more expected. There’s Jonathan Black, the detective. I liked his story and wished he’d come across more officer-like and less strange. He shows up at strange times and almost seems like he’s chasing Daphne. Now, she tends to get herself into strange situations, so it’s a good thing he does show up. And those situations…she has the dogs with her, the ones she complains about and, as a pet sitter, it felt a bit irresponsible.

But this is a cozy mystery and it’s fiction, so the book wasn’t bad. Far from it. It’s a nice story to pass the time during this pandemic era or on the beach. Plus, there are dogs!

If you like cozies with animals in them, then try this book.

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