Tag Archives: Zoo

Book Review: The Puffin of Death a Gunn Zoo Mystery

The-Puffin-of-Death-Catalog-180x276The Puffin of Death

Betty Webb

Theodora (Teddy) Bentley is off on an unwanted adventure. Her demanding boss at Gunn Zoo ordered her to fly to Iceland to pick up some animals that the Reykjavik Zoo is sending to live in California. Teddy is less than excited about the trip, but at least she has the Zoo credit card to pay for everything.

Iceland is an entirely different world than California – volcanos, ice flows, glaciers and a population that all seem to be related. Teddy is determined to make the best of her time there, viewing puffins in their native habitat as well as bonding with the orphaned baby polar bear she is bringing home to live at Gunn Zoo.

Teddy is staying with Bryndis, the zoo keeper that will help transition Magnus (the baby bear) as well as a pair of puffins and a pair of Icelandic foxes that will round out the new Northern Climes exhibit at Gunn Zoo. Bryndis is also a member of a band, giving Teddy an opportunity to experience night life in Iceland after the zoo is closed in the evenings.

While out enjoying the diverse island, Teddy accidentally stumbles upon a dead body. The puffin pecking at the corpse surely isn’t the murderer, but who would want to murder an American tourist?

Simon Parr, the corpse in question, is a member of a bird-watching group with millions of reasons people may want him dead. First of all, he is the all-time biggest lottery winner in history. He seems to have a snarky personality and most likely a lover or two that his wife may or may not know about.

Murders are rare in Iceland. But soon another bird-watcher from the group dies. Teddy doesn’t think it was an accident and finds herself in more hot water than she has bargained for. Even though she knows her fiancé Joe is too far away to help her and the local police have told her to keep her nose out of the murder investigations, she can’t help poking around, asking questions and irritating the remaining birders. Will she become the third victim?

I loved this book and Betty Webb’s writing style. It is a cozy mystery with lovable characters both human and animal. Teddy is flawed, makes bad choices when murderers are afoot and is easy to like. Her escapades are crazy, yet believable and that is what I find so endearing about her character.

Webb brings the flavor and people of Iceland to life for the reader without lecturing. She obviously did copious research to get the names, customs and environment correct. I also love the way she gives the reader an inside look at the animals and behind the scene info about zoos.

This is the fourth in her Gunn Zoo series. It was refreshing to have Teddy go to an exotic place to introduce new characters and keep the series fresh rather than have another murder within close proximity to her home. The Puffin of Death can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. There are a few references to the other books, but nothing that will be a spoiler if you read this one first – because I know you will want to read the rest of them as soon as you are finished.

Copyright © 2015 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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Filed under Book Review, books, cozy mystery, Iceland, Mystery, NaBloNoMo

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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Filed under Book Review, books, Mystery, poisoned pen press

Slow down, walking gets you there too!

I guess three times is the charm when it comes to knitting this Mystery Shawl. Whatever clicked in my brain, I am happy it happened. I am rolling happily along, half way through the first clue.

Never mind the fourth clue just arrived this weekend. Slow and steady is my pace and it seems to be working. And counting over and over again. I wasn’t as carefree this time. I put in that rescue row / life line in right before the pattern got more complicated. It just seemed much more prudent than tearing it out for a fourth time.

I also have giving up on working on it if I am really tired or distracted. Why chance it? I am not running a race. Which brings to mind this weekend’s activities besides my slow shawl progress.

A couple of months ago my daughter-in-law and I signed up to run a 5k to benefit the Chicago Zoological Society’s Conservation Fund. Last year we ran our first 5k and I haven’t really ran much since. There is always an excuse not to exercise. I should exercise more, but I don’t. I need a goal. Don’t ask me why, I just do.

I figured I could start really hitting the treadmill and streets to run about a month before the race. It was summer, really hot, no rain…whine, whine…sad but true. So I slid through the summer not doing much exercise wise. Then I fell down the stairs. Five short weeks before the race, I had a sprained foot and torn ligaments. Good grief.

Over the last week I could finally say my foot was feeling pretty normal. I can wear real shoes again! Which is a nice thing since it is getting pretty cold around here for flip flops.

On Thursday, my daughter in law asked me if her sister could use my number. Of course she could, because then she would have someone to run with. Then she told me she hadn’t been training either. And she had a cold. And she was just going to walk the 5k. Hummm. I told her that if her sister didn’t want to do it I would walk with her.

Hubby had a hissy. I get it. I was pretty laid up for almost a month, now I want to walk over 3 miles. I promised I’d stop if it hurt. He shook his head and gave up the fight.

So this morning bright and early, we went and we walked. It certainly wasn’t a crazy fast event for us. But we did a respectable time of 53.06. I certainly thought that was acceptable. Now that I started I don’t want to stop. So back to the treadmill tomorrow. It may cut down on my knitting time, but hopefully it will give me more years to knit in the long run 🙂

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Filed under 5K races, Knitting