Death by Chocolate Lab Bethany Blake: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Mar 4, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Bethany Blake

This week we have a review of the first book in a brand new pet mystery series by Bethany Blake. We also have a fun guest post from Bethany. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Death by Chocolate Lab. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

Death by Chocolate Lab: A Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery by Bethany Blake
Review by Sandra Murphy

Daphne Templeton is the black sheep of the family. She’s a pet sitter/dog walker with a sister, Piper, who’s a veterinarian and a mother who is totally focused on being the best realtor ever. Piper lets Daphne live with her, rent free, and bails her out when the pet sitter VW van breaks down or runs out of gas. Two dollars worth of gas just doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Piper’s ex-boyfriend, Steve, is a dog trainer, a womanizer, and not well liked. Steve’s at Piper’s farm, along with others, to set up for an agility trial. The next morning most of the equipment is still on his truck. A tunnel set up on the agility course contains Steve’s body. Being Daphne, she’s not too sorry about Steve’s demise except for one thing. Piper is a suspect. The new police detective, Jonathan Black, is a true hottie, but she can’t be distracted by his looks or smile. He has the power to put Piper in jail. book

Daphne doesn’t have a lot of impulse control. She tends to act without thought and faces the consequences later. It’s embarrassing how many of her faux pas are witnessed by Jonathan.

Daphne has a BFF, Moxie, who runs a beauty shop for both dogs and people—everyone can get groomed in the same place. Even more helpful are Socrates and Artie, Daphne’s dogs. Socrates is a Basset Hound who thinks deep thoughts, and Artie is a foster Chihuahua who has one ear, an overbite, and who is in desperate need of a home. He drools, too.

This is the first in the new Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series. As good as the mystery is, the characters are what will keep readers coming back. Daphne has a sort-of boyfriend but is attracted to Jonathan. Moxie is a treat with her obsession over anything vintage. The business owners in town are quirky in a way that will make readers want to pack a suitcase and go see for themselves. However, Socrates and Artie are the main scene stealers. Daphne knows that Socrates snort/snuffle is really laughter. In one scene, he’s looking out the window. Daphne knows he’s meditating so she’s gentle about bringing him out of his reverie. He’s calmer which is an accomplishment only Daphne can see given the laid back nature of bassets.

Artie wants to be liked. He tries so hard with Socrates who thinks Artie shouldn’t let his desperation show. Artie’s never ending energy (except after the first block of a walk—then he has to be carried) and optimism can only bring smiles.

There are four recipes for dog treats and one for humans (Tuxedo Popcorn!). Dial Meow for Murder will be the next Daphne escapade.

This is already marked to be on my Best Books of 2017 list.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble and a Kindle. You can find several of Sandra’s short stories at Untreed Reads including her newest, “Arthur,” included in the anthology titled, Flash and Bang, available now. Look for Denali, in the anthology Dogs and Dragons.

Why We Should Get a Dog
By Bethany Blake

When my daughter Paige was ten years old, she called a family meeting—complete with snacks. Little peanut butter crackers carefully arranged and delivered by her sister, who was serving as Paige’s personal assistant that night. Once everyone was assembled, my oldest child proceeded to deliver a PowerPoint presentation entitled, “Why We Should Get a Dog.” And she had done her research. She touched upon things such as pets’ power to lower blood pressure and increase human life spans.

We already had animals in the house. But we traveled a lot, and having a dog never seemed realistic. However, my husband and I realized that we were pretty settled, at that point, and the kids deserved a canine. (I desperately wanted one, too.)

We’re an adopting family. My three girls are all adopted, our cat was a stray, even our fish was an accidental visitor who ended up staying. So we knew that we would find a pound or rescue pet. And we quickly located Daisy, aka Big Pup.



We were smitten by her soulful eyes, and within a few weeks, she was ours. I’d like to say things went smoothly, but we got off to a rough start. We brought Daisy home to one of the coldest, snowiest Pennsylvania winters I can recall. Her (understandable!) refusal to go outside made potty training a nightmare. She chewed through a wire and plunged half the house into darkness that lasted for weeks, until an electrician figured out what she’d done. We took turns sitting with her in a pitch-black kitchen, crammed onto her little bed, luring her outside every fifteen minutes, all night long, until the (many!) accidents finally stopped.

Three years later, it’s hard to believe Daisy was ever a problem child. She’s a snuggler and a seamless part of our family. She camps with us, swims with us, and cuddles while we watch TV. I can’t imagine LBD (life before dog). In fact, Daisy is the inspiration for the relationship between my amateur detective, pet sitter Daphne Templeton, and her canine companion, Socrates the introspective basset hound, in my new cozy mystery, Death by Chocolate

Daphne and Socrates are true partners. The novel is realistic; Socrates doesn’t speak like a human, and he lives a dog’s life, sleeping on a bed on the floor, and sometimes getting banished to the back seat of Detective Jonathan Black’s truck, although he’d prefer to ride up front. But Socrates nevertheless communicates with Daphne in dog-speak: the set of his tail, the furrow of his brow. And, when push comes to shove, Socrates protects Daphne, just like I know Daisy would protect my children and me.

Life before dog was easier in some ways. The furniture was free of fur, the hardwood floors were unscratched by claws, and nobody spit kibble all over the kitchen. (Is Daisy alone in doing this?) But who wants a perfect house when you can have memories like this?

To enter to win a copy of Death by Chocolate Lab, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “lab,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 11, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:


Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, and a hermit crab named Shelldon P. Crabbington. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and operates a pet sitting business called Barkley’s Premium Pet Care. You can learn more on Bethany’s website.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds really good! Dog stories with mysteries are the best!

  2. Sounds like a great read, thanks for sharing with us!

  3. Looks like the start of a great new series! Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  4. This looks like a great new series! Thanks for the chance to win.

  5. I really like the description of the book, but best of all was the description of “Why We Should Get a Dog”. Very bright children! I understand how it works. Rescued pets are wonderful after that first period of everyone getting to know one another.

  6. Love the review and cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.

  7. I can hardly wait to read.I make treats for my cats and dogs, so will not only am I going to read book but bake treats too.

  8. I would love to read this and would also post reviews on goodreads and amazon. Thank you so much for the chance!

  9. I have a sweet rescue lab named Bosco. He is getting up there in dog years and is losing his sight, but what a sweetheart! parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com

  10. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the giveaway.

  11. We have a winner!


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