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Death by Chocolate Lab

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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?

Includes recipes for homemade dog treats!

“When murder is unleashed in the idyllic town of Sylvan Creek, it’s up to spunky pet sitter Daphne and her darling duo of misfit mutts to catch the killer. A doggone charming read from start to finish!” —Cleo Coyle, New York Times bestselling author

Customer Reviews

First book in a new series!

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 clandasdine 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.

a wonderful story that is sure to please animal lovers, and shows great promise for future installme

Opening during a walk with Axis, Artie, MacDuff, Iago, Hamlet, Socrates and their person Daphne introduce us to the story. See Daphne lives with her veterinarian sister Piper as she tries to get her business off the ground Fully grounded in her animals, if a touch out there for humans, Daphne’s degree is in Philosophy, which while great fodder for stories and unique thinking doesn’t necessarily pay the bills out of an academic setting. Laden with personality – the dogs steal the show and provide a clever bit of humor and ‘only a dog person’ could understand. While Daphne has her mind on the business end of things, Piper’s practice is solid, but her love life is in shambles, even though she is trying to keep a civil working relationship with her ex Steve, a K-9 trainer in town. But, when Steve is found dead, the clearest suspect for detective Jonathan Black is Piper, and Steve’s dog Axis, a chocolate lab is missing.

Poor Daphne – she knows that her sister didn’t kill Steve, but poor Axis is out there, somewhere, alone and she presumes scared, and perhaps he can help her find the real culprit.

Early on, the book was quick reading and clever, jumping nicely from one scene to the next with plenty of doggie hijinx in the mis. While slowing and dragging a bit after that, the story is clever and twists aplenty even as I often wished for more answers sooner without so many twists. Still, this was a wonderful story that is sure to please animal lovers, and shows great promise for future installments.

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Death by Chocolate Lab
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  • $5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Women Sleuths
  • Published: Feb 28, 2017
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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