Monday, December 19, 2022

Death Checked Out | Blog Tour with Guest Post and Giveaway


Death Checked Out: A Larkspur Library Mystery by Leah Dobrinska

About Death Checked Out

Death Checked Out: A Larkspur Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - Wisconsin
Level Best Books (December 6, 2022)
Paperback: ‎ 278 pages
ISBN-10: ‎ 1685121829
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1685121822
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. 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.


About the Guest Post

An Ode to Nancy Drew

By Leah Dobrinska

When I was in college, my summer job was to be a student academic advisor, helping incoming freshman navigate the class scheduling and orientation process. We’d start each day with a new batch of fresh-faced freshman. To break the ice and try to get everyone more comfortable with each other, we’d often ask a series of questions. One of my favorites was: if you could be a fictional character, who would you choose to be? You can get a good read on a person based on their answer to this question.

When it was my turn, my answer was simple. I wanted to be either Elizabeth Bennet or Nancy Drew. When I stop to think about them, the two characters are quite similar — dogged, determined, and strong. I admire their hearts and their minds.

For the sake of today’s conversation, I want to focus on Nancy Drew. 

I can vividly remember reading my first Nancy Drew book, The Secret in the Old Clock (because I’m a rule follower and I read the series in order… at least the first time through. After that, all bets were off!). Never before had I read a book that had me on the edge of my seat in such a way. I got my first taste of what it feels like for a book to get your heart pumping. The myriad of authors who wrote using the pen name Carolyn Keene had a way of ending a chapter that left my stomach bottoming out and kept me turning page and after page.

I received a box set of the first six books in the original Nancy Drew series and tore through them with vigor. My school library had most of the other titles, so I was kept in my Nancy Drew fix for much of my later elementary school days.

When that school consolidated with another nearby grade school, my mom, bless her heart, had the foresight to ask if she could have the Nancy Drew books from the library. The newly combined school didn’t need two sets, so they gave them to her. Now, they sit on my shelf. The sight of the worn yellow backing and loose spines gives me an immediate jolt of serotonin. The old library cards, with my name scribbled on so many lines, are still in place, attached to the inside front covers and adding to my sentimentality. And the vanilla scent of the stained pages touches my soul.

Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But we all have that book, right? The one that made us into the reader we are today. For me, it’s the Nancy Drew series.

Not only did Nancy Drew make me a reader, but in a way, she led me to writing my first cozy mystery series. I never intended to be a mystery author. In fact, I began my career as a romance novelist. My first published books — the Mapleton novels — are small town romances that read very much like Hallmark movies.

But when I was visiting my husband’s aunt and uncle’s cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin a couple years ago, I spotted a log cabin, and my first thought wasn’t, Oh, that’s the perfect setting for a romance. It was, Oh, that’s the perfect setting for a mystery. It was like I could see Nancy Drew skirting around the premises, taking in every detail and piecing together the clues to solve the case.

We got home after our weekend visit up north, and I set to work writing my first ever mystery. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I knew how I wanted the story to feel. I wanted readers to become attached to my amateur sleuth, Greta Plank, just like I was attached to Nancy Drew.

When I was drafting Death Checked Out, Greta’s character came very naturally to me. She was a librarian with a cheerful disposition who had faced some hard stuff in life but was resilient and optimistic. Still, Greta alone was missing something, and I knew she needed some partners in crime. Josie and Iris, her co-librarians, are my nod to George and Bess, Nancy’s best friends and counterparts in almost all of her mystery-solving endeavors. I love the interplay between Nancy, Bess, and George. Bess, the timid one, George the go-getter, and Nancy, the driving force behind it all. In my book, Iris very much mirrors Bess. She may come off a little naïve in this first book in the series, but I have plans for her to grow and come into her own. Josie is rough around the edges, kind of how I pictured George to be. And of course Greta, like Nancy, is the glue that holds the trio together.

Even Greta Plank’s name is a small tribute to Nancy Drew. I intentionally picked a first and last name with two syllables and one syllable, respectively, just like Nancy Drew.

Discerning readers and Nancy Drew fans may also recognize that the town of Larkspur, my fictional Northwoods village, is named after the tenth book in the Nancy Drew series, The Password to Larkspur Lane.

So now I’m curious. What’s your book? What book made you a reader? Are you a Nancy Drew fan like me? Share with me in the comments below, and if you get a chance to check out Death Checked Out, I hope you love it. Thanks for reading!


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,

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