Death Checked Out by Leah Dobrinska

When in doubt, go to the library...and solve the murder mystery!

Greta Plank, library director in the small, lakeside town of Larkspur, Wisconsin, prefers her rose-tinted glasses extra rosy, thank you very much. It’s how she copes with the hard stuff in life…like her sister’s death and her ex-boyfriend’s deception. But Greta’s cheery resolve takes a hit when she stumbles upon a dead body on her way home from work. What she assumes is a terrible accident Greta soon learns is something more sinister, and to make matters worse, a new-to-town detective cites her as not only his primary source for the case, but his top suspect.

To clear her name and save her reputation, Greta decides to do some off-the-books clue cataloging of her own. After all, asking questions is what she does best. With the help of her fellow librarians and her lawyer mom, Greta flips through the pages of the murder, uncovering details about Larkspur’s real estate market and the deceased’s rare book collection as she tries to understand why anyone would have authored his death.

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.

My Thoughts

Can I just say how much I love this cover? I didn't even realize this was a cozy mystery at first because of how cute and different the cover is. It's much different from the typical design that a lot of publisher's in the genre use and I really appreciate that.

Now, let's get on to the story!

Death Checked Out takes place in the small town of Larkspur, Wisconsin. There's a beautiful lake with lots of cabins nestled around the surrounding area. Our main character Greta is one of the town's librarians and is very busy with work, but she also enjoys hanging out with her girlfriends and going paddle boarding in the lake.

There is a new detective in town who moved to Larkspur from Chicago, and he is immediately put to the test when one of the town's residents is found murdered. Given the fact that Greta had a close friendship with the resident, things don't look very good for her when she is the one who finds the body.

I liked the banter between Greta and Detective McHenry. He's from Chicago and he takes his job very seriously, so even though Greta is innocent, he's very tough on her until she can come up with the proof to show him that she is innocent. Meanwhile, Greta feels like she is doing everything she can to show him that she's not a criminal but keeps running into roadblocks while trying to solve the murder.

Larkspur is filled with interesting people. There's Josie and Iris, who work with Greta at the library. There's Allison who works at the cafe, Mugs & Hugs. There's Dean and Sidney, who spend a lot of time at the library working while there office is being renovated. And then there are out of town guests, like Greta'a parents, or Liam the estate lawyer.

I felt like Death Checked Out was a great first book because there were a lot of leads on who the murderer could be, so the story really kept me guessing. I'm also a HUGE book lover myself, so it was really fun to read about the rare book collection as well as all of the fun literary references, like Nancy Drew and James Bond and other book series.

I can't wait to find out what happens next in Larkspur. Hopefully Greta can stay out of trouble, although I'm sure she'll get wrapped up in another case soon. Detective McHenry may not like it, but with her research skills and thoughtful personality, she could be a great asset towards his police cases in the future.

Thanks to Netgalley and Level Best Books for an eGalley in exchange for an honest review!

xo Marian