Monday, November 09, 2009

The Clockwork Teddy by John J. Lamb

If I haven't convinced you to try one of John J. Lamb's Bear Collector's mysteries yet, maybe The Clockwork Teddy will convince you. This mystery combines the best of a police procedural with the teddy bear aspect of a cozy. But, this one is definitely the strongest police procedural yet in the series.

Lamb cleverly avoids "the Cabot Cove Syndrome" by removing his characters from their home turf of the Shenandoah Valley. Since Brad and Ashleigh Lyon are bear artists, teddy bear shows allow them the opportunity to travel and leave town. But, this mystery takes them not only to the Teddy Bear Flag Republic show in Sonoma, California, but back to Brad's former stamping grounds where he worked as a homicide detective with the San Francisco Police Department.

While checking out a booth at the show, Brad witnesses a costumed bear attack the booth, and steal the moneybox. He's a little suspicious when he runs into Merv the Perv, a former cop, intimidating the booth owner, Lauren, immediately after. Lauren reluctantly tells Brad that her son, Kyle, has disappeared. He was a former employee at Lycaon Software, and the company has threatened him, accusing him of theft. When Lauren refuses to cooperate with the police, Brad drops the subject.

But, the whole incident at the teddy bear show has relevance when Brad's former partner has to interrupt their dinner to report to a sleazy motel, the site of a shooting. When Brad rides along, he has the suspicion Kyle is involved, because one piece of evidence is a highly advanced robotic bear. But, it will be quite a while before Brad and the San Francisco Police Dept. find out the actual truth in this case.

Lamb easily intertwines teddy bears, Brad and Ashleigh's family life, and a police procedural. And, Berkley Prime Crime has some of the best cover illustrations for books. Check out this cover by Jeff Crosby. It's another outstanding example of cover art. That's just one more welcome addition to Lamb's intriguing mysteries. The Clockwork Teddy is the best so far.

John J. Lamb's website is

The Clockwork Teddy by John J. Lamb. Penguin Group (USA), ©2008. ISBN 9780425224298(paperback), 288p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Berkley's art department is really rocking right now! That's a great cover, and I think it hints at what you've mentioned--this book is less cozy and heavier on police procedure.

It sounds like a great read. It's on my TBR list now!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

I read the first book in John J. Lamb's series and enjoyed it. I plan to read more when I can. Thank you Lesa for these great authors.

Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like a good series I'll have to check out. Love the cover art. It would grab my attention in the store.

Lesa said...


I've been very impressed with Berkley's art department lately. The covers give the flavor of the story, without giving it away.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Page! Thanks for reading my blog.

Lesa said...

It is great cover art, Mason, isn't it? I hope you do check out the series. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Clea Simon said...

I love the idea of a teddy bear police procedural, so I think I'll have to pick this one up. Thanks for the review!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Clea. These are excellent books. Unfortunately, John told me today there will only be 5 in the series. Berkley said they haven't sold well enough to publish #6. Darn, darn, darn.