Death By Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake is the first book in the NEW Lucky Paws Petsitting mystery series published by Kensington, February 28, 2017.

death-by-chocolate-labPet 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?

When Daphne’s discovered the dead boy of her sister’s boyfriend at her farm, Daphne takes it upon herself to investigate when it looks like her sister is the prime suspect. It takes dogged determination for Daphne to prevail in her search for a killer.

This was a fun and enjoyable book to read. I love the author’s writing style and the tone that was set at the beginning. The tempo was perfect as it kept things flowing at an evenly pace. The narrative was nicely done as it placed me in the middle of all the action from the introduction of Daphne, Piper to the first encounter with Jonathan Blake to the farm setting to the antics of the dogs and to the search for clues. The author did a great job in setting the stage for this murder mystery with suspects and clues that kept me glued to the pages. I liked that with every turn, a new suspect was outed but again, it was those innocent information-gatherings that provided enough suspicions for Daphne that helped in exposing the killer’s identity. Daphne is very likable and I like that she follows her own self in what she does and somehow it all works for her. She is surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters which includes the adorable Socrates and Artie. Boasting a great cast, engaging dialogue and a small-town feel, this is delightfully charming introduction to a series that is a welcome addition to the cozy genre.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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