The Anteater of Death: A Zoo Mystery
Poisoned Pen, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
uthor Betty Webb has turned away for the moment from her highly popular Lena Jones series to introduce her fans to a new protagonist – Teddy Bentley. In this series, Teddy is a zookeeper in Gunn Landing, a seaside community where Teddy's family has a long history, especially her mother Caro who believes wedded bliss must include gobs of money. She's on at least her fifth husband and still looking. Her first husband, Teddy's father, absconded with his firm's assets and disappeared, leaving Teddy and Caro destitute.
ne of the animals Teddy cares for is Lucy, the anteater. When a man is found dead in Lucy's enclosure, she is afraid the grumpy creature will be put down. In trying to prove that the anteater had nothing to do with the man's death - even though Lucy's deadly claws had stripped skin from his body - Teddy finds herself a candidate for murder. The local police chief is Teddy's old high school boyfriend – her parents broke up that match by sending her to a private school in another state. Now he is back in her life but she's not too sure she can ever trust a man again (her ex-husband was a cheater).
ots of fodder here for a good read. And a good read it is. The machinations that it takes to run a zoo are woven through the story and prove so very interesting. Who knew how cranky an anteater could be? Or how tall when they sit up with their front paws in the air, balanced on their hind feet and their furry tails. Or what they eat besides ants. The other denizens of the zoo require their share of care and keep their keepers constantly at work. Not even mentioning the humans who come to stare at the animals, not realizing they are equally as interesting as the animals at which they gape. While Teddy asks questions about what turns out to be murder and not death by anteater, she becomes a target.
eddy is a welcome new name in the mystery field. She is resourceful and ready to do whatever is necessary to protect the animals under her care. She keeps the action moving. Teddy's slick movements to avoid her mother's matchmaking are fun. The plot flows freely and all too soon finishes with a bang worthy of Betty Webb.
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