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The Llama of Death: A Gunn Zoo Mystery (Gunn Zoo Series) Hardcover – January 8, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Zookeeper Teddy Bentley is at the Gunn Landing (California) Renaissance Faire to give llama rides to children when mail-order reverend Victor Emerson is found dead in the llama pen, shot with a crossbow dart. With her sheriff fiancé out of town and unreachable for at least a week, Teddy begins her own investigation after the incompetent acting sheriff arrests Teddy’s mother for the murder. She soon learns that the “reverend” married many of the local residents but was not legally able to do so, due to his using an assumed name—one of many secrets in his past. As Teddy investigates her friends and colleagues, she learns they also have dark sides. Of course, that’s true of her own family, and one of those dark sides, her embezzler father, helps solve the murder. Quirky characters and the zookeeper frame story add zest to this engaging cozy mystery that will appeal to fans of Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow mysteries. --Sue OBrien

About the Author

As a journalist, Betty Webb interviewed U.S. presidents, astronauts who walked on the moon, and Nobel Prize-winners, as well as the homeless, the dying, and polygamy runaways. The dark Lena Jones mysteries, based on stories she covered as a reporter, include "Desert Lost" ("One of the Top Five Mysteries of 2009, Library Journal), "Desert Noir" ("A mystery with a social conscience," Publishers Weekly) and "Desert Wives," ("Eye-popping," New York Times), and "Desert Wind," given a starred review by Publishers Weekly. Betty’s humorous Gunn Zoo series debuted with the critically-acclaimed "The Anteater of Death," followed by "The Koala of Death." A long-time book reviewer at Mystery Scene Magazine, Betty is a member of National Federation of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and the National Organization of Zoo Keepers.

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Product Details

  • Series: Gunn Zoo Series
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464200661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464200663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,090,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former journalist Betty Webb is a prize-winning mystery novelist whose books are based on true crimes, including human rights abuses. Publishers Weekly called her novels "mysteries with a social conscience." She lives in Arizona, where her Lena Jones mysteries are set, and teaches writing at Arizona State University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First Line: "Alejandro, you spit in my face!"

Once again, the owner of the Gunn Zoo has strong-armed zookeeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley into doing something she'd rather not. Not only does Teddy have a weekly program called "Anteaters to Zebras" on the local television station, not only does she have to keep on cleaning animal enclosures and feeding the animals, now she has to dress like a trollop and lead Alejandro the llama around while he gives children rides at the Renaissance Faire. Alejandro adores children, but-- as can be seen by the spit on Teddy's face-- he has an entirely different opinion of human adults.

Is Alejandro's low opinion of adults what caused him to stomp to death the owner of the local wedding chapel? Fortunately not-- closer examination shows that the man dressed as Henry VIII was killed by a crossbow bolt to the neck. Teddy's fiancé may be the sheriff, but the CIA has him in Langley, leaving the investigation to a completely incompetent deputy who likes Teddy's mother as the killer. Teddy has to do her own investigating before the deputy can tie her mother to the railroad tracks, and what she begins uncovering makes for one very long suspect list... and puts her right in the killer's sights.

Author Betty Webb may be better known for her more serious Lena Jones mystery series set in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her Gunn Zoo series, set on the central California coast, features a beautifully done comedic touch and lots of down-to-earth information on animals. I've read each book in this series, and they just keep getting better. From smiles and chuckles, I've now progressed to laughing out loud while reading this third book. I also feel that Alejandro is the best "feature creature" so far in the series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By julie whiteley on December 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Llama of Death is the third in the Gunn Zoo Mystery Series written by Betty Webb.
In this installment, Teddy is roped into working in the renaissance faire by her slave driving boss. Teddy works with Alejandro the kid loving llama.
But, when the local wedding chapel minister is found murdered in Alejandro's area at the faire, the acting sheriff arrested Caro, Teddy's mother.
With Joe, Teddy's fiance' and the Sheriff of San Sabastian, away on a training mission, Teddy has to find the real murderer all on her own.

This bok is only 250 pages long and there are over 20 characters and suspects, making things a bit 'busy' at times. Other than that this is a very light cozy mystery made fun by all the wonderful zoo animals. The main characters are quirky, zany and downright funny at times. I would recommend this one to all cozy mystery lovers and especially to animal lovers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CJ-MO VINE VOICE on January 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In addition to her duties as a Gunn Zoo zookeeper, Theodora "Teddy" Bentley is assigned to run the llama rides at a renaissance fair for the next few weekends. Teddy wasn't thrilled when her influential boss requires her to work at the faire, but the animal-loving Teddy soon builds a rapport with Alejandro the llama and begins to enjoy the assignment. Then Victor Emerson, a mail-order reverend and owner of a wedding chapel in real-life, who is playing the role of Henry VIII for the fair, is found dead in the llama pen. Teddy is relieved when the incompetent acting sheriff discovers the llama is not responsible for Victor's death, but is soon outraged to learn her mother is now the prime suspect. Teddy steps in and will do whatever it takes to protect her mother from an unjust prison sentence and find the real murderer.
This is a fun book that is full of humor and quirky, but fully-drawn characters. Teddy is caring and loyal to both her animal and human friends. Her mother, Caro's attitude can be a little hard to take, but she is interesting in that she is wealthy and worldly in some ways and naïve and helpless in others. Caro is more worried that her nail polish clashes with the prison uniform than her serious situation as a murder suspect. However, I admire Teddy because she knows her mother's faults and is all the more protective of her dramatic mom because of them.

The insider's knowledge of caring for animals in a zoo is very interesting and makes a great backdrop for a mystery. The author, through Teddy, works many cautions about trying to keep wild animals as pets, into the story without it being awkward or preachy. In addition to the zoo setting, most of the mystery takes place at a renaissance fair which makes it even more fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In Central California, Aster Edwina Gunn assigns her employees Gunn Zoo Zookeeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley and Alejandro the llama to provide rides for children at the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire. Neither Teddy nor Alejandro is ecstatic over this demeaning assignment though it is the llama doing the spitting.

At the pen enclosing Alejandro's rides, someone murders mail order minister Victor Emerson who played the role of Henry VIII at the Faire. Deputy Elvin Dade initially considers arresting the llama until it is pointed out that Alejandro would have had a hard time shooting the arrow into the head of Emerson. Instead he arrests serial wife Caroline Petersen (her surname for now) as the killer; her motive involves two of her myriad of weddings ministered by the late Rev. Teddy knows her mom Caroline, who was performing as Anne Boleyn at the Faire, is not the culprit so she investigates; while her father surprisingly arrives from Costa Rican exile with plans to break out his ex-wife from jail; that is when he is not befriending Aster.

The latest Gunn Zoo amateur sleuth (see The Anteater of Death and The Koala of Death) is an engaging amusing cozy starring a zookeeper, a llama, a dysfunctional family, an incompetent cop and a killer. Fast-paced with interesting insight into zoos and animals wrapped inside of Teddy's inquiry, fans will enjoy this fun whodunit.

Harriet Klausner
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