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Night Kill: A Zoo Mystery (Zoo Mysteries) Hardcover – September 10, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Iris Oakley loves her job as a feline keeper at the Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington. What she doesn't love is the amount of alcohol her husband Rick is lapping up every night. After a short separation, the two are reconciled, and Rick swears off the sauce. However, the next morning his dead (and dead drunk) body is found in the lion enclosure. Once Iris sorts through some of her initial grief, she begins to deal with no longer being with the big cats and being trained as a bird keeper-- and the feeling that her husband's death was no accident.
When this book concentrates on animal behavior, the day-to-day running of a small zoo, and the training of the keepers, it is first rate. It is obvious that Littlewood, a former zoo keeper, knows her stuff. A scene in which Iris is attacked by a big cat is scary and riveting.
Unfortunately I never felt connected to any of the characters-- including Iris-- and parts of the plot were too easily deduced. Littlewood's second book in the series, Did Not Survive, is available, and I would be interested to see if the characterization and plot in it can rise to match the author's background knowledge. I'd love to see more writing that matches that big cat attack!
Our guide is Iris Oakley, a feline keeper whose husband is mauled to death by lions. Everyone but Iris believes it was an accident, and even she is almost convinced until someone sets fire to her house and tries to electrocute her in an aviary. Armed with such clues as a mysterious tooth and an illicit love affair, Iris is compelled to set a trap - with herself as bait - to bring her husband's killer to justice.
Along the way, we are treated to a wealth of wry humor and smart dialogue. The supporting cast of zookeepers and administrators are sharply drawn and consistently entertaining. Ann Littlewood is a former zookeeper herself, and obviously knows her stuff. The passion Iris feels for her profession, and the depth of detail, ring with true life experience.
Night Kill feels like the first in a series. I hope so. I look forward to spending more time with Iris Oakley at the zoo.
Contrary to what you'd expect of your average fictional heroine, Iris Oakley does not dash off half-cocked, determined to prove Rick was murdered. Instead, real person that she is, she grieves, tries to cope and struggles to bring her life back into balance. Left alone, Iris would likely have accomplished just that. But harder times keep coming her way, and a series of near fatal accidents forces her to re-examine her assumptions about Rick, their life together, and his untimely demise. Step by step, she comes to the conclusion his death was no accident, and it's up to her to do something about it.
One thing that makes Iris so real is her job. She's a zookeeper who lives and breathes the care of exotic animals. She knows their wants, needs and quirky personalities as well as she knows those of her parents, friends and co-workers. This gives her rare and often comical insight into the human condition (as seen in animal terms), and into the animal condition (as seen in human terms). Mixed with the inner workings and day-to-day procedures of the zoo, Iris Oakley's unique perspective on life provides a consistently thoughtful and entertaining backdrop to the story.
Ann Littlewood is to be applauded for this work - something truly different in the world of mysteries. Give us more, Ann!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Set in a Portland Zoo type of atmosphere. The novel was contemporary and believable.
I thought this book was so good that I bought the 2 sequels and am reading the second one now. The story line is interesting if you want to know more about how a zoo is run which... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Linda K. Huggins
The story was a good one to read. It held my interest and give a good description of how things work in a zoo.Published on July 13, 2013 by Annie
I LOVE this series! A must read series for all animal lovers. You quickly become addicted to Ann Littlewood's books. Can't wait til the next one comes out!Published on November 21, 2012 by Gotta love mysteries
Today I celebrated 5 years as a zookeeper at a major city zoo, following up 7 years as an animal caretaker at a wildlife sanctuary. Read morePublished on July 31, 2012 by J. Taylor
I work in a zoo so love the zoo setting and story line. The book had my attention through out making it hard to put down. I highly recommend it.Published on July 8, 2012 by B. Brown
LOVED this book! An experienced zookeeper has to change "houses" when her charges, the big cats, apparently kill her estranged husband. Read morePublished on April 9, 2012 by Amazon Customer