3 Star rating
Lost Under a Ladder
A Superstition Mystery #1
By Linda O. Johnston
ISBN# 978-0738740775
Author’s Website:  http://www.lindaojohnston.com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


Is it luck or is it . . . Destiny?

Are superstitions real? Rory Chasen doesn’t think so–until her beloved fiance walks under a ladder and is killed by a car five minutes later. Needing closure, Rory takes her dog Pluckie to a town called Destiny, where superstitions are a way of life.

Rory’s visit to Destiny takes an unexpected turn when Pluckie saves the life of Martha, the owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique. To show her gratitude, Martha offers Rory a job at the pet store. But when Martha becomes the prime suspect in the murder of the local bookshop owner, Rory refuses to believe that she would do it. Rory is convinced the real killer still roams Destiny’s streets, and she must uncover the truth before Martha is hauled off to jail. (Goodreads)


Lost Under a Ladder begins with Rory Chasen seeking answers and closure after her fiancé dies shortly after he walks under a ladder.  Are superstitions for real?  She plans to take a few days off from her job as an assistant manager of a chain pet store to go to the small town of Destiny, a place engrossed in superstitions.  Every store, restaurant, inn, and street name have superstitious monikers; all of the residents are superstitious (even if for some only for appearances sake).  On her way to see the bookstore owner touted as a superstition expert, her dog, Pluckie, tugs her into the local pet shop, and there she finds the proprietor ill in the back room.  Pluckie is instantly deemed a hero and good luck charm, and Martha, the shop owner, is so grateful that she begs Rory to step in as manager of her shop while she recovers.  This is a pretty farfetched scenario, no?  Maybe…or it could just be attributed to the power of luck.  Rory agrees to stay indefinitely after the bookstore owner is found murdered and Martha is proclaimed the prime suspect.  Rory seeks to clear Martha’s name, and she is still on the fence about the validity of superstitions.  She is befriended by the local chief of police, Justin, and they work together and separately to solve the crime.

Lost Under a Ladder is the first book in a new series, and it is a light, breezy, quick read cut in the standard cozy mystery mold.  It is somewhat predictable but provides a nice foundation for quirky characters and unusual causes of death, all related to superstitions, for future installments.  The characters are stereotypically drawn but are not unlikeable and have the potential to grow into something much meatier.  There is potential fun to be had here.

I do appreciate the inclusion of Pluckie as central to the plot without giving her supernatural powers or the ability to talk, etc.  She was just a sweet, smart dog.  There did seem to be unnecessary reference to a lot of trips outside to do her business though.   I do wish the author had incorporated explanations, and maybe a bit of history, of the superstitions.  I would have found that interesting, and I am sure that not all readers are familiar with all of the superstitions mentioned in the book.  Also, Justin seemed way too tolerant of Rory baiting the killer.  I also feel like Rory did not find the answers she was seeking and thus it felt somewhat dangling.  But these are minor complaints.  SPOILER ALERT: I am usually good at guessing whodunit long before the conclusion of the book but not here.  I think that is because I flat out dismissed him as far too obvious a choice and his motive too banal.

I enjoyed Lost Under a Ladder and look forward to future installments in the series.  I recommend this to dog lovers and those interested in all things superstitious.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*