Zookeeper Theodora Bentley, aka Teddy, loved her job at the Gunn Zoo, located along California’s Monterey coast. She was upset with her domineering boss because she was ordered to take care of the llamas during the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire running four weekends straight. Everyone had to dress up in 16th century clothing and speak the dialect of the day. The frustrated animal keeper also had to tend to her own animals during the rest of the week.
While tending to Alejandro, the most popular llama, Teddy had a run-in with the Reverend Victor Emerson who was playing the part of King Henry the Eighth. Shortly after that encounter, her ex-beauty queen and high society mother, Caro, entered the food tent to speak with Teddy. She began expressing her opinion about Reverend Emerson, Teddy, and anyone else that came across her mind. The Reverend had a number of enemies and Caro was one of the most vocal.
That night, Teddy woke up to a loud racket somewhere on the grounds of the Faire. When she went out to investigate, she found Alejandro making a noise that sounded like loud weeping. When the security guards arrived as a result of the noise, they found the body of Reverend Emerson in the llama enclosure.
Because Teddy’s boyfriend, Sherriff Joe Rejas, was unreachable at a Homeland Security refresher course in Virginia, and due to several unexpected situations, the fifth in line at the sheriff’s office, Deputy Elvin Dade, was in charge of the crime. The inept and abrasive deputy not only corrupted the crime scene, he arrested Teddy’s mother, accusing her of killing the Reverend.
Since the bumbling detective insisted on sticking to the wrong investigative course, Teddy decided to try to solve the crime before anyone else got hurt.
The Llama of Death was written by Betty Webb, the author of two previous Gunn Zoo mysteries. She is also the author of the popular Lena Jones mystery series. The author shares much information about zoo keeping in this novel, but she uses it to great advantage. Rather than getting mired in detail, the plot flows from one scene to the next.
Teddy is a thoroughly like-able character and it’s easy to believe she loves caring for her animals. She is also believable as someone who is able to conduct her own investigation. Not all so-called amateur sleuths come across as capable of searching for and understanding how to read clues.
The Llama of Death is an enjoyable mystery with even more twists and turns than already mentioned. There is a large cast of characters, but it is easy to follow the flow of the story. This novel is highly recommended for animal lovers, or anyone else, who enjoy a fairly quick read.
A special thank you goes to the author and Poisoned Pen Press for providing a complimentary copy for our review. If you are interested in any of Betty Webb’s novels, they are available at Amazon.com.