Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mournful Teddy by John J. Lamb

I'd been reading about John J. Lamb's teddy bear mystery on DorothyL. There are fans of this cozy mystery series who continually mention it, so it was time to try the first book in the series, The Mournful Teddy. All of those readers are not mistaken.

Retired San Francisco homicide cop, Brad Lyon, is settling into life in Virginia's mountain country with his wife, Ashleigh. Remmelkemp Mill, in the Shenandoah Valley, was Ashleigh's family home since the late 1800s. And, Brad and Ashleigh are finding it a peaceful place to build up their teddy bear business, Lyon's Tigers and Bears. It's peaceful until their dog, Kitchener, finds a body in the river behind their house.

Brad convinces Deputy Tina Barron that the man was murdered, but Sheriff Holcomb brushes him off as a pathetic retired cripple, and calls it suicide. Angry, Brad and Ashleigh decide to start their own investigation, with the help of friends and Ashleigh's family. They're up against Holcomb and his "goon son," a cop on steroids. And, they're not sure who else might be involved in the community when they find out the victim was connected to the Steiff Mourning Bear.

Ashleigh's first bear exhibit at the Teddy Bear Extravaganza was supposed to feature the auction of a Mourning Bear. There were 655 Mourning Bears made by Steiff in 1912 to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic. However, the bear, meant to be auctioned for charity, never showed up, and it seems as if the man found behind in the river was supposed to have delivered that bear.

Murder, a missing teddy bear, moonshiners, a minister connected with stolen goods, a rich woman hated by the locals, and, of course, crooked cops. What more do you want in a cozy?

How about a couple married for twenty-six years who are still very much in love? Brad and Ashleigh Lyon are terrific characters who work well as amateur detectives. The bear collector's business will take them into future mysteries. And, as I've said recently about Berkley's paperbacks, it has a terrific cover. Berkley uses some of the best cover artists in the business. All of those readers who commented about this series are correct. The Mournful Teddy is a enjoyable kick-off to the series.

John J. Lamb's website is

The Mournful Teddy by John J. Lamb. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2006. ISBN 9780425211120 (paperback), 304p.


Kaye said...

Wow, this sounds just like my cup of tea. How have I missed this series for so long. Since I consider you the definitive word on mysteries, I will be searching out this book soon.

Thanks for a great review!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love the Tommy and Tuppence idea--the loving couple who are solving mysteries together. Thanks for sharing!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lesa said...

Oh, Kaye. Thank you! I don't consider myself the "ultimate word on mysteries," but that's very nice of you. I missed this series as well, but with the raves on DorothyL, I thought it was time to look for it. You won't be sorry.

Lesa said...


It works well here. Brad has the homicide knowledge, and Ashleigh has the local knowledge. Makes for a successful mystery team.

Cassonia said...

I agree with you, this series is so good. I have been a fan from the beginning and I always get the new ones as soon as they come out. I find the Berkley/Signet have some of my favorite writers and the best cover art.

Also, I love your reviews and your writing. Thanks for all that you do.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Cassonia. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series. It was just a satisfying mystery with fun characters. Nice to know the series continues to be good. Thanks!