Saturday, February 18, 2017

Death by Chocolate Lab: A Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery

Salutations!  It has been a rainy day in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.  A perfect day to get some work done in the house and to read.  I spent some time trying to figure out drill bits.  I was rehanging a shelf with toggle bolts.  The package directions stated to use a 9/16" drill bit.  Upon inspection of my father's numerous drill bits, I did not find one that was 9/16".  So I kept trying different bits until I achieved a big enough hole! The trial and error method--worked for me.  I discovered a drill bit guide in his shop later in the afternoon, and there is no mention of a 9/16" bit.  I think there is something wrong with the package directions (unless they invented a new bit size recently)!

Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake is the first book in A Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series.  Daphne Templeton lives in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania with her sister, Piper (their mother, Maeve lives in the town as well).  While Daphne has a PhD in philosophy, she runs Daphne Templeton’s Lucky Paws Pet Sitting (now many job opportunities for someone with a degree in philosophy).  Her sister, Piper owns Winding Hill Farm (and is the local veterinarian) and is hosting a dog agility trial competition the next day.  Late that night, various vendors show up to set up their tents.  Steve Beamus, owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy arrives to set up the course.  Steve is not well-liked because of his condescending, superior attitude and womanizing ways.  The next morning, Daphne is out early with her dog, Socrates and her foster dog, Arnie (a little Chihuahua with an overeager personality and an unfortunate overbite).  Arnie enters the course and dives in a red tunnel.  When he does not exit, Daphne crawls in to get him.  She gets a shock when she discovers the body of Steve Beamus.  The new to town Detective Jonathan Black is in charge of the case and happens to hear a private conversation between Daphne and Piper that puts Piper at the top of the suspect list.  Daphne is determined to prove her sister’s innocence to the detective.  There is no shortage of suspects for the murder of such an unlikeable victim.  Daphne, with the help of her canine sidekicks, starts questioning her list of suspects.  When Daphne is out late one night for a clandestine meeting, she discovers the body of Virginia Lockhart in the park.  Virginia must have stumbled upon the killer and paid the ultimate price.  Daphne will need to up her game if she is to find the killer before he strikes again (and she stumbles across another body)!

I found Death by Chocolate Lab to be easy to read.  I like the various dogs included in the story (can you tell I am trying to list the positive attributes first) and there are some good recipes for dog treats included at the end of the book (I will have to try them out).  I enjoyed the mystery that Bethany Blake created in Death by Chocolate Lab.  I do not think that many readers will guess the identity of the murderer.  You will need to utilize deductive reasoning to identify the perpetrator (really think about all the people in the book).  I give Death by Chocolate Lab 3 out of 5 stars.  I thought that Daphne was too quirky (nicest word I can use).  Daphne has a PhD in philosophy (she is also a vegetarian).  It takes intelligence and time to get a doctorate degree.  But the author then made her out to be a babbling idiot who cannot remember to keep gas in her car.  Daphne has not managed to get her life together and lives with her sister who likes to remind her of this frequently (that she does not pay rent).  She drives a 1960s era VW bus that breaks down as frequently as it runs out of gas (she puts in $5 and then drives 10 plus miles and is shocked there is no gas).    The car has the worst paint job on the planet.  It is supposed to depict a dog (for her business), but it looks like a horse (of course).  I wish the author would have let Daphne be an intelligent, confident woman.  It would have made for a more appealing story.  Then there is the situation with Jonathan Black.  It seems he is very handsome and Daphne cannot help but notice him.  A reader is subjected to the many fine attributes of Detective Black several times throughout the novel (every single time Daphne and Black encounter each other).  I like a little romance in cozy mysteries, but I do not feel the reader needs to be hit over-the-head with it (and we do not need the main character to be drooling over him). Detective Black is not the only hunky man in the book (there are two others).  While Death by Chocolate Lab is not the right book for me, I believe others will enjoy the humor.  The next book in the series is Dial Meow for Murder (releases September 26).  Death by Chocolate Lab releases on February 28.

I hope each of you has a lovely evening.  I am going to enjoy my dinner and watch Ransom.  I will see you when I return to review another novel. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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