The Bear Collector's mystery series by John J. Lamb grows
stronger with each entry. The Crafty Teddy, the third in the series, provides more motivation for Brad Lyon and his wife, Ashleigh, to investigate murders in the Shenandoah Valley.
Kitchener, the Old English sheepdog, woke Brad, who discovered a burglar in the house. Although Brad was armed, he didn't want to shoot at the man, but he should have. As he fled, the burglar shot at Brad, but he also stole a valuable anniversary bear, and tried to destroy two other collectible ones. So, when Brad and Ashleigh discovered the theft of two other valuable teddy bears, they were suspicious.
That theft, though, involved murder. The local museum director was found crushed under an oak china cupboard. While assisting local sheriff Tina Barron at the crime scene, Ashleigh noticed the display bears and "antique" quilt were actually fakes. And, suspects certainly were plentiful - everyone from the director's lazy wife, to his lover's husband, to three Yakuza, Japanese gangsters who had been directed to the museum by Brad, of all people.
Cozy readers will never be disappointed by these books, but these are solid police procedurals. Brad is now a paid consultant for the small sheriff's department, providing a reason for him to be involved. And, before this book ends, Ashleigh adds another logical reason for involvement.
The combination of Ashleigh's insight into human nature, and her knowledge of teddy bears, along with Brad's police experience, makes for an excellent team of sleuths. Add in two other characters, with prominent roles in the series, Sheriff Tina Barron, and restaurant owner, Sergei Zubatov, and it's a strong cast. This is one of my favorite lighter mystery series right now. I just can't get enough of Brad and Ashleigh Lyon, bear collectors and sleuths. The Crafty Teddy provides one more reason to visit old friends in the Shenandoah Valley.
John J. Lamb's website is www.johnjlamb.net
The Crafty Teddy by John J. Lamb. Penguin Group (USA), ©2007. ISBN 9780425218853 (paperback), 304p.