Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am happy to feature Death Checked Out: A Larkspur Library Mystery
by Leah Dobrinska today!
About Death Checked Out
Death Checked Out: A Larkspur Library Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Level Best Books (December 6, 2022)
Number of Pages ~300
Digital ASIN : B0BHJJ1QRT
She’s used to checking out books. A death? Not so much.
Greta Plank, resident librarian in the small, lakeside town of Larkspur, Wisconsin, prefers her rose-tinted glasses extra rosy, thank you very much. Ever since a family tragedy landed her in Larkspur, she’s kept a happy-or-bust outlook. But Greta’s cheery resolve takes a hit when she finds the town recluse dead at the base of the stairs leading from his deck to the lake. What she assumes is a terrible accident Greta soon learns is something more sinister, and to make matters worse, new-to-town Detective Mark McHenry cites her as not only his primary source for the case, but his top suspect.
To clear her name and return to life as she knew it before the murder, Greta decides to do some clue cataloging of her own. After all, she’s got her master’s degree in library science with an emphasis in research methodology…how hard could a criminal investigation be? With the help of her fellow librarians and her lawyer mom, Greta begins checking out the pages of the murder, uncovering details about the recluse’s rare book collection and Larkspur’s real estate market as she tries to understand why anyone would have authored his death.
But with friends and neighbors stacking up as both victims and suspects, Greta must cross-reference the facts and put a hold on her idyllic worldview if she wants to get the full story without paying the fine of her life.
In this first Larkspur Library Mystery, we meet Greta Plank. She has come to Larkspur and taken the job as Library Director to restart her life after a family loss. She feels that the little town is a safe place until she finds one of her new friends, her neighbor, and town recluse dead at the foot of his deck stairs. She thinks the wheelchair-bound man’s fall was an accident but as the evidence is collected the death is classified as a homicide and Detective Mark McHenry has decided Greta is his prime suspect.
Greta is shocked but decides to quickly prove him wrong by starting her own investigation. She definitely has the education to follow the clues wherever they lead. Unfortunately, the killer is not happy that she is on their trail and makes an effort to stop her permanently. Larkspur sure isn’t the town she hoped for and she may have to rethink her options. That is if she lives long enough to have options.
While Greta is the main character in this story and we have just scratched the surface of getting to know her I was drawn right away to her neighbor Franklin Halloway because we have things in common. He is a disabled man who has become a bit of a recluse. It had taken Greta some time to get on the man’s good side and become his friend. They both love books, in fact, he has a wonderful rare book collection. Greta visits him often, bringing books he requests from the library, and always takes time to visit with him and his golden Siberian tabby cat Biff. I could identify with him so easily because due to my disability I spend a lot of time in a wheelchair. We also both love books and have no problem being left alone to read and enjoy them. I was really sad that he was the victim in this story because he was a man I would have enjoyed spending a lot more time with.
We also meet Greta’s friends and fellow librarians Josie and Iris, her parents, a snooty library board member, and of course Detective Mark McHenry along with several others that come into Greta’s life. I really enjoyed meeting Greta’s mom Louisa and her friend Lori. Strong Wisconsin woman that I would easily be friends with in real life. The author has left plenty of room for growth and I am excited to see them get more fleshed out as the series continues.
The mystery was well-plotted but I focused on one character really early and came up with a theory that was surprisingly right. Each clue revealed firmed up my thinking. There was another secret reveal that was apparent to me early as well. I did like it when Greta and Detective McHenry started working together. Their meetings gave me a good chuckle. The final reveal was very exciting. It played out in a different and much better way than I thought it would.
I love that this series is set in my home state of Wisconsin. It is easy to see that Ms. Dobrinska also calls this state home because she captures the essence of this fine state and its small towns so well.
Death Checked Out has given this series a fine start. Writing the first book in a cozy mystery series is hard. You have to introduce all the characters and make them characters readers what to know better while wrapping them in a mystery that will those pages turning. I think the author did a great job. I do want to know more about Greta and the residents of Larkspur. I am intrigued to see what she has in store for her characters next.
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About Leah Dobrinska
Leah Dobrinska is the author of the Larkspur Library Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in the Wisconsin Northwoods, and the Mapleton novels, a series of standalone small town romances. She earned her degree in English Literature from UW-Madison and has since worked as a freelance writer, editor, and content marketer. As a kid, she hoped to grow up to be either Nancy Drew or Elizabeth Bennet. Now, she fulfills that dream by writing mysteries and love stories. Death Checked Out is her debut cozy mystery.
A sucker for a good sentence, a happy ending, and the smell of books—both old and new—Leah lives out her very own happily ever after in a small Wisconsin town with her husband and their gaggle of kids. When she’s not writing, handing out snacks, or visiting local parks, Leah enjoys reading and running. Find out more about Leah, join her newsletter community, and connect with her through her website, leahdobrinska.com.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”