A Deadly Bone to Pick

Molly Madison Mystery, Book #1

By Peggy Rothschild


Author Website: peggyrothschildauthor(.)com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


Ex-police officer and former P.I. Molly Madison is starting over. After the death of her husband, she and her golden retriever, Harlow, move cross-country to California. But as charming and peaceful as the beachside town seems, she soon learns its tranquil tides hold dark secrets.

On her first day in the new house, a large, slobbering Saint Berdoodle wanders in. Molly winds up taking on the responsibility of training Noodle since his owner is too busy to do the job. On one of their daily beachside walks, Noodle digs up a severed hand. Once Molly alerts the police and they run a background check on her, she’s an immediate suspect–after all, Noodle’s testimony to clear her name won’t hold much water in court.

To prove her innocence, Molly must rely on instincts keener than a canine’s to sniff out the real killer. But when Molly’s life is put in danger, will her two very loyal pups be able to rescue her? (Goodreads)


A Deadly Bone to Pick is a supreme dog lover’s mystery.  The first book in the Molly Madison series, it is full of California atmosphere, quirky neighbors, murder, and dogs…a satisfying mystery that reads a lot like a police procedural but with all the hallmarks of a cozy.

Ex-cop and private investigator Molly hopes to leave the scars and drama of her life in Massachusetts behind and start over in a picturesque coastal California town.  Before she is even settled she meets a new (nosy) neighbor and another neighbor’s really big, drooly pup named Noodle.  She agrees to train and pet sit Noodle when she discovers his owner, a local ER doctor, does not have the time or inclination to invest in Noodle.  Things quickly unravel when Noodle finds a severed hand on the beach, then another item that might be related.  Then a neighbor dies, and Molly becomes the focus of the lead detective once he looks into her background.  The danger ratchets up as the body count rises, but Molly must find the truth if she is ever going to clear her name and find some peace in her new hometown.

I like Molly.  She is intelligent and obviously a strong woman.  Her tragic past makes her all the more relatable.  Since she has police experience, she makes a believable amateur sleuth.  Her K-9 officer training makes her a qualified dog wrangler.  Is there a better way to interact with and get to know neighbors than through their pets?  Her neighbors are a bit eccentric, but not caricatures, adding variety to the Molly’s days.  I particularly like Lupe, her brother Detective Vasquez, and precocious eight-year-old Ava.  Ava’s parents and Detective Wright are the least desirable characters.  The paradisaical beachy town provides a glittery veneer that makes the murders feel all the more horrible.

The mystery within these pages is well thought out.  There are plenty of discoveries and clues along the way to keep the book compelling, but the pace is somewhat uneven.  Dogs and all that goes into training them is at the forefront of the action here, which I greatly enjoyed (and probably learned a tip or two), but even if that is not of great interest to you it is still a quality read.  I did not identify the killer before Molly did; their reveal and the climax are both exciting and dangerous if a bit rushed.
I really enjoyed A Deadly Bone to Pick and look forward to more investigations featuring Molly Madison.  Highly recommended to pet loving cozy and traditional mystery readers.