Tag Archives: Betty Webb

Book Review: The Koala of Death (spoiler alert – the koala is innocent!!)

The Koala of Death

By Betty Webb

266 pages

Trouble is afoot for the keepers at Gunn Zoo. Teddy Bentley, one of the zoo keepers, finds one of her coworkers floating outside her houseboat. The corpse, Koala Kate, was the face of Gunn Zoo to locals because she appeared on a TV show and published a cute blog about life at the zoo.

Police quickly arrest Outback Bill, another one of the keepers. He insists on his innocence, and it appears Teddy is the only one that believes him. That is until there is another murder at Gunn Landing Harbor. This victim was a close friend of Kate, even though they seemed like an unlikely pair.

Joe Rejas, Teddy’s boyfriend and local sheriff, wants her to keep her nose out of the investigation. Especially after two murders steps away from her boat. Kate had secrets and one of them must have something to do with her death.

Teddy has troubles. Joe and her mother aren’t happy with her detective activities. After a scare, she finally agrees to go stay at her meddling wealthy mother’s home, but continues to snoop. To compound Teddy’s troubles, she has to replace Koala Kate on the Good Morning, San Sebastian show as well as continue the blog. And her mother is trying to hook her up with a rich man instead of keeping her nose out of Joe and Teddy’s relationship.

All of these elements plus a liberal sprinkling of kooky back up characters, both human and animal, make this a really fun book. The mystery is a great whodunit. There are suspects and secrets both silly and scary. Scattered throughout are interesting facts about koalas and other zoo animals. This makes a perfect mix for a delightful read.

The Koala of Death is Webb’s second Gunn Zoo Mystery, but the first one I’ve read. I have read one of her other books, Desert Rage. As you can tell from the titles, the zoo series is meant to be more lighthearted. Webb is a masterful writer who does humor and murder equally well. I love an author that can entertain, surprise and touch my heart. One of my favorite lines in Koala of Death is “Alzheimer’s wasn’t only a thief of memory, it was a thief of the heart.”

On a personal note, thanks to my son Mark, who gave me The Koala of Death for Christmas this year after I mentioned that I wanted to read this series. The title made him laugh, and choose this book for me. I loved it!

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Desert Rage by Betty Webb – I can’t wait to read the rest of her books!

Desert Rage (A Lena Jones Mystery)

By Betty WebbDesertRageAmazon-330

Private Investigator Lena Jones is summoned to the home of a powerful, demanding Congresswoman Juliana Thorsson. Lena is willing to meet with her, but remains skeptical that she could stand this ambitious woman long enough to work the case no matter what it is. That is until she hears the details of the job Thorsson needs done.

A 14-year-old girl and her boyfriend have admitted that they brutally murdered the girl’s family. Her father, mother and 10-year-old brother were slain while eating lunch in their expensive Scottsdale home. After confessing to the crime, both teens have refused to talk to anyone and are being held in juvie with public defenders working their cases.

The Congresswoman wants to hire Lena to find evidence to clear Alison, the 14-year-old murderer. She is convinced that Ali has only confessed to keep Kyle out of prison. Thorsson insists that Kyle worked alone to murder Ali’s family. The killer even attacked Alison’s small dog, almost killing him. She insists Ali would never hurt her dog or her family.

Lena is intrigued, but wary of working for Thorsson. She rolls scenarios around in her head trying to find a logical connection between a young girl and this very public woman that is in the middle of a run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Unable to walk away from a case where at least one, if not both teens might be incarcerated or put to death, Lena agrees to work for Thorsson.

The P.I. immerses herself in the case and soon believes they are both innocent. She is convinced Ali and Kyle are lying. The evidence just does not add up. But if the  teens are innocent, that means a brutal killer is still on the loose. What possible motive would someone have to murder a prominent doctor, his wife and young son?

As the investigation heats up, Lena finds everyone except the young son and dog are harboring secrets. Any one of these lies and indiscretions could have led someone to murder. As Lena gets closer to the truth, she becomes a target. Someone is out to get her, could it be a pumped up chick she infuriated or maybe the real killer of Alison’s family.

With the help of her old partner, a snarky police officer and Thorsson calling in favors Lena moves closer to the truth.  Her investigation takes her down a twisted trail turning up more suspects, any one of them have means and convincing motives.

Desert Rage is excellent on so many levels I do not know where to start. Webb paints a vivid picture of life in the hot desert of Arizona. Her characters came alive on the page. My heart broke for Kyle, a good kid living with a foster family because his family can no longer take care of him. Lena’s past as part of the foster system tethers her tighter to the case. Webb gives little tidbits of information regarding the area. She explains little known facts that tie directly to the plot. It is interesting and enriches the plot to pull the reader in even further. The end has a totally unexpected twist. I love when an author masterfully uses her craft to make me gasp.

This is the eighth book in the Lena Jones Mystery series, and the first one I have read, and it works very well as a stand-alone novel. I am appalled that I somehow missed Betty Webb’s previous books when looking for a new favorite writer to add to my list. She also writes the Gunn Zoo Mystery Series which I need to seek out. How can you not love books with titles like The Koala of Death? I am looking forward to reading many more of Betty Webb’s books.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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