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Posts Tagged ‘zookeeper’

The Llama of Death by Betty Webb

The Llama of Death” is the third in Betty Webb’s “A Gunn Zoo Mystery” series.  In this installment, zookeeper, Teddy Bentley, is put in charge of the llama rides at the local renaissance faire near Monterey Bay.  The llama, Alejandro, is on loan from the nearby Gunn Zoo where Teddy works during the week days.  I found myself falling in love with the sensitive llama who became very protective of the children he gave rides to.  Who wouldn’t love that adorable face on the cover of the book? Alejandro is unjustly accused of killing one of the Renaissance players and later of injuring the man who was formerly his abusive owner.  Several others are later suspected of committing the murder, including Teddy and her mother, socialite, Caro.  Teddy’s investigation of the real culprit is hampered by the incompetence of the acting police chief and by Teddy’s own father, an embezzler who comes back from his sanctuary in Costa Rica to see his family and friends.

Webb, a journalist, mystery writer, and apparent expert in zoos, intersperses lots of humor and action into the plot making “The Llama of Death” an enjoyable read, if somewhat predictable.

Liz Nichols

(Reviewed from a supplied copy.)






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Endangered by Ann Littlewood

Endangered” is the third in Ann Littlewood’s “A Zoo Mystery” series, and it is a worthy follow up to her other novels.  The book was published in July by Poisoned Pen Press.

In “Endangered” zookeeper and widowed mom, Iris Oakley, is sent to collect some endangered and possibly illegal birds and tortoises at the ranch of a family of drug dealers who have been busted. The Finley Zoo, fictional zoo in Vancouver, Washington that Iris works for is so up to the gills trying to fit all the new animals in that Iris agrees to take a couple of macaws temporarily in the basement of her home.  By getting involved Iris becomes a target for the sons of the drug dealing family, and some other potential killers. What’s worse, she puts her son, Robby, and other family members in some danger.

Littlewood, who was a zookeeper at one time, really knows her subject matter well and makes it interesting for the reader to learn about fairly unique topics such as the smuggling of illegal exotic animals into the U.S. Not many authors can provide this type of insight within the plot of a mystery and make the information so interesting and accessible for the reader.  There are also more typical novel themes– how a working single mom can cope with a career and family at the same time; when is the appropriate time for a widow to get back out into dating men; and how to choose the good guys from the not-so-good.

Endangered” is another winner of a mystery from Littlewood.

Liz Nichols

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

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Did Not Survive by Ann Littlewood

I received a review copy of “Did Not Survive” and felt privileged to read this second novel by Ann Littlewood, an experienced zookeeper and Audubon Society volunteer in the Portland area. Littlewood brings her wealth of experience to this zoo mystery.

In “Did Not Survive” the old female elephant, Damrey, is accused of mauling and killing a zoo supervisor at Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington. Zookeeper, Iris Oakley, is volunteered by her work mates to investigate the circumstances behind the killing and to vindicate Damrey, if possible.

It is easy to empathize with Iris, a young woman who has recently lost her zookeeper husband and is now pregnant and struggling to adjust to life as a prospective single mother. She is quickly able to prove that Damrey is not the culprit. It is a much harder chore to discover who did it–and to live to tell about it.

There are many people who have a motive to kill Kevin Wallace. Was it the protesters who are trying to get the elephants sent to a sanctuary? Was it a jealous lover? Was it a jealous zookeeper who wanted to get Kevin out of the way for a promotion? Does someone have a hidden motive? Iris examines every option and introduces us to a variety of interesting and suspicious characters in the process. She puts herself in heart-pounding danger that threatens not only her job but also her own life, and that of her baby.

Iris and her creator, Ann Littlewood, offer many fascinating insights about modern day zoos and the factors that can make or break an exhibit. There are lots of back stories about office politics that seem reminiscent of my years in the non-profit world.

Littlewood follows very successfully the writers’ adage to write what you know about. Littlewood knows zoos, and the many little realistic details make “Did Not Survive” a chillingly believable thriller.

I look forward to reading more Littlewood Zoo Mysteries in the future.

Liz Nichols

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