When zoo keeper Iris Oakley arrived for work at the Finley Memorial Zoo, a small fictitious zoo located near Vancouver, Washington, she was surprised the elephants were causing a ruckus so early in the morning. Although her experience was primarily with birds and felines, not elephants, she headed over to their enclosure as quickly as she could – a little difficult as she was six months pregnant. Still reeling from the recent death of her husband, Iris just wanted to concentrate on her baby and her job, not get into a situation with angry elephants.
However, when she arrived, she found her boss face down in one of the stalls apparently being mauled by Damrey, an older, typically gentle long-time resident at Finley. After the police and zoo officials arrived, Iris joined other staff members waiting to hear news regarding their boss. Although Damrey was at first blamed for the incident, an autopsy proved Kevin Wallace was murdered. Jittery staff members voted to have Iris look into who would want to cause him harm.
Iris found a number of people who potentially wanted to kill Kevin. Unfortunately, hindering her investigation was the bitter feud going on between the elephant keepers, an over-active animal rights group on a quest to shut down the zoo, the surprisingly constant presence of the police investigating the incident, and one stolen zoo van. On top of that, the zoo animals begin to mysteriously disappear.
As Iris moved forward determined to find out what really went on at the elephant enclosure in those early morning hours, she found someone who was willing to commit murder to stop her from revealing the truth.
Did Not Survive by Ann Littlewood is the second in a new series following the well-received Night Kill. Using the premise of writing what you know, Littlewood’s twelve years as a zookeeper at the Oregon Zoo has provided her with plenty of fodder for this series.
Littlewood has written a stirring account of the bond that is built between zookeepers and the animals they care for and protect. Detailed descriptions of the inner workings of a zoo provide an interesting backdrop to the chilling murder mystery. Iris’s continued struggle with the death of her husband and the pending birth of their baby touch the heart.
A special thank you goes to Poisoned Pen Press for providing a complimentary copy of Did Not Survive. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of either of Ann Littlewood novels, they are available at Amazon.com.