Death by Proxy Guest Post

Death by Proxy Guest Post

Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery
by Paula Darnell

Guest Post

Pets and Cozies

Cozy mystery authors face a bit of a dilemma when writing their books because these novels have a completely different vibe than hard-boiled, noir, gory, or forensic-oriented mysteries do. Like other books in the mystery genre, the crime in a cozy is almost always a murder. (There are a few exceptions; recently I read a cozy that centered around a kidnapping, but that’s rare.) At the same time, the author has the task of creating a setting that feels homey and a protagonist whom readers like. Casting the main character as a pet parent as well as an amateur sleuth adds to the coziness in these books and can often provide a touch of humor, too.

Roles of dogs and cats in cozy mysteries include such over-the-top portrayals as paranormal pets and pets as story narrators. However, I suspect that many, if not most, of the pet characters that appear in cozy mysteries are based on their authors’ own pets. That’s certainly the case for my DIY Diva cozy mysteries, in which Bear, Laurel McMillan’s lovable chocolate Labrador retriever, is a member of the family. In Death by Proxy, Laurel’s boyfriend Wes even tells Bear that he will “always be part of our family,” right after the curious dog runs to the newly engaged couple while Wes is still on bended knee.

Bear’s been with Laurel right from the beginning of the DIY Diva series. In fact, the first words in the first book, Death by Association, were “Bear, no,” as Laurel held the eager Lab back from chasing a bunny as she took him for his daily walk. Bear acts like a real dog because he’s inspired by two of my own dogs: Teddy Bear, a yellow Labrador retriever and Rocky Boy, a Pyrador (half Lab and half Great Pyrenees). Bear’s daily walks, love of treats, dancing for dinner, nudging Laurel when she works too long at the computer, chasing the neighbor’s cat, guilt tripping her when she leaves him home alone, and many more canine antics all come from real life. Several readers have commented that Bear and his antics seem authentic and lifelike, which has been very gratifying to me.

Rocky Boymodeling a reversible dog scarf. Instructions for making the scarf appear in the first DIY Diva mystery Death by Association, which also includes four dog treat recipes and instructions for making a no-sew dog bed.

I’ve included a couple of extras for dog lovers in Death by Proxy, too: a tuna-rice dog treat recipe and project instructions for making a dog’s bow tie.

About Death by Proxy

Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Cozy Cat Press (November 2019)
Print Length ~220 Pages

With preparations for her upcoming wedding to handsome Wes Wesson, a Center City police lieutenant, on track and her DIY Bridal Crafts class at Hawkeye Haven’s community center wrapped up, DIY Diva Laurel McMillan looks forward to a calm pre-nuptial week to finalize her wedding plans. There’s only one problem: the week turns out to be anything but calm. Laurel and Wes narrowly escape being run down in the parking lot of their favorite restaurant. Laurel’s bridal shower is interrupted by a mysterious stranger who sends Laurel’s lovable chocolate Labrador retriever Bear into a frenzy, and when Laurel and Wes go to meet Lisa, their real estate agent, at a house she promised to show them, they discover Lisa’s sister’s body floating in the pool. Strangely, Lisa seems more concerned with selling houses than she does with her sister’s death. After Lisa’s mother inadvertently reveals family secrets, Laurel wonders whether Lisa could have killed her own sister. Will the mayhem and murder stop before Laurel discovers the key to the killer’s game plan?

About Paula Darnell

An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop:

Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.

Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners’ association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death by Association. She finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions.

Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.

Author Links

Author’s website

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Etsy shop –

Purchase Links – Amazon


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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for featuring the third book in my DIY Diva cozy mystery series, Death by Proxy. I hope everybody enjoys the book!
    Paula Darnell, Author

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