My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Because Reading is Better Than Real Life where at the beginning of the month visitors can choose which book I’ll be reading this month. On the first saturday of a month the poll will be up, then on the second saturday of the month I’ll announce the book that won and on the last saturday of the month I’ll post my review of the book.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
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?
I got a free copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
I am so glad I gave this book a try as I really enjoyed it! Death by Chocolate Lab was exactly the type of cozy mystery I enjoy. There was focus on pets, a great mystery and a likeable main character. It quickly grabbed my attention and I enjoyed the whole book. The pace was very well done and the first thing I did when I finished this one was to look up when the release date for the next book is (September in case anyone else was wondering) and sign-up for the author’s newsletter.
The mystery in Death by Chocolate Lab was a good one. There was a scene at the start that I knew was going to be important and it is, then the murder takes place and the main character gets involved. It felt pretty natural how the main character got involved even though she makes a few less smart decisions, it all felt in character. The mystery kept me guessing, there were some possible suspects that all seemed like they had something to hide. There were a bunch of red herrings, secrets that came to light, revelations and some nice twists. When I thought I knew who the murderer was, a twist happened that made it obvious that person wasn’t the murderer. I figured out who the murderer was seconds before the main character did. It was a good mystery, although I think it would be hard to figure out the murderer as there are few clues to that direction. The biggest clue was at the end.
This book strongly focuses on animals and pets. There are almost as many animal side characters as human ones and the pets have as much personality as the human characters. I love it when authors make animals part of a story like this and I really liked spending time with all the dogs. And every dog we meet is unique and has their own quirks. I liked how much they played a part of this story, Socrates and Artie almost always went with Daphne and many scenes feature dogs.
Daphne was a great main character. She had her quirks and made some mistakes, but she felt very realistic and I liked reading about her. She’s also a vegetarian, which was a nice touch. I was just talking about this with another blogger recently how we would like to see more vegetarian characters. I could easily relate to her and I liked how much she cared about animals. There are also some nice side characters, I especially liked the detective, Jonathan Black. Daphne and Jonathan have an interesting relationship and slowly grow to become sort of friends. I liked seeing them together and how they slowly grow a bit closer. I have high hopes for a possible romance between them as I liked reading about their interactions.
To summarize: This was such a fun and enjoyable read and I am looking forward to book 2. The mystery was very well done, with some good twists, secrets that come to light and red herrings. I was convinced I knew who the murderer was until a twist made it clear I was wrong. I only figured out the real murderer seconds before Daphne did. The pets where a big part of the book and I liked that. It also was great how each pet had their own personality and characteristics, just like the human side characters. Daphne was a great main character to read about I could relate to her and I liked how realistic she acted. She wasn’t perfect and had some flaws, but I liked her quirky personality and love for animals. I also liked reading about her interactions with the other characters. I especially enjoyed the scenes involving her and detective Jonathan Black. All in all this was a great start of a new series and I am looking forward to read more by this author.