Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake
A Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery #1
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!
The Food-Love-Mystery Connection
I spend a lot of my life feeding people and pets. My house is filled with kids – my own and their friends – and an assortment of animals, ranging from a dog and cat to a hermit crab and fish. (Fingers crossed to adopt a horse soon!)
But here’s a secret. For years, I didn’t know how to cook. I was one of those people who couldn’t even boil an egg. My family subsisted on sandwiches and cereal. Then, one day, I decided to look at cooking in a different way. It didn’t have to be a chore. It could be a creative outlet, and, more importantly, an act of love. And a weird thing happened. I could cook. Really well. It was like years of watching Food Network had filled my brain with knowledge that I just needed to tap into. Soon I was baking and even canning my own food. I started making pet food and treats, too.
So when I decided to write the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mysteries, I knew that cooking would be a central part of pet sitter and amateur sleuth Daphne Templeton’s world, too. Daphne is a carefree spirit who doesn’t have a fancy kitchen of her own. In fact, she crashes at her sister Piper’s farm, Winding Hill. But Daphne has a soft heart, and she loves to feed people and animals.
Daphne may drive an unreliable 1970s VW bus, but her basset hound sidekick, Socrates, and drooling foster Chihuahua, Artie, are spoiled with homemade treats, like PowerPup Breakfast, Sweet Potato Puppy Crunchers and Banana-Apple Pupcakes. (Recipes in the book.)
Food also helps to bridge the gap between Daphne and enigmatic, handsome Detective Jonathan Black – although things usually go wrong when they share a meal.
And Daphne’s first instinct, when her sister Piper is accused of murder? Make Piper’s favorite berry cobbler, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course.
Food plays a role in lots of cozy mysteries, and I understand why. What’s cozier than sharing good food with your best loved people and pets? And in that spirit, I’d like to share one of my favorite, easy dog treat recipes with you. These couldn’t be simpler to make, and your canine sidekick will gobble them up!
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup shredded cheese (I like white cheddar)
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup peanut butter (any kind is fine)
1/2 cup water or broth
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put some parchment on the counter, too, for rolling out dough.
2. Mix together all the ingredients to form a dough. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water or broth. The mixture should be slightly sticky, but capable of being rolled out.
3. Place the dough on the parchment-covered counter and roll or press dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Cut into rectangles, or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. (I used dogs, cats and little bones.)
5. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the treats are just browning on the bottom. They will firm up and harden as they cool.
6. Allow to cool thoroughly before sharing.
Hint: If you use cookie cutters and have extra dough, roll it into little balls. They make great training treats. Sit… Stay… Eat!
About the Author
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, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. 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.