Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Salon- Did Not Survive by Ann Littlewood

Ann Littlewood follows up her dark, educational mystery, Night Kill, with another fascinating glimpse in to the world of zoos.  Since Littlewood worked as a zookeeper for twelve years, she knows the animals, the politics and intrigue, and the mysteries surrounding zoos and the animals.  Her latest mystery, Did Not Survive, captures all those elements in an absorbing story.

Zookeeper Iris Oakley found her husband's body in the lion enclosure at the Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington.  Six months later, she's working in birds because of her pregnancy, and she's on early morning duty when she hears an uproar in the elephant enclosure.  When she finds her boss lying in the enclosure, being mauled by Damrey, one of the elephants, she has no experience to try to save him.  Although she was able to move the elephants, she's sure Damrey tried to kill the foreman.

With the zoo in an uproar over the attack, and people out front picketing against elephants in zoos, Iris' friends turn to her to find out what's happening.  But, Iris has her own priorities, "Staying healthy, doing my job, and getting ready to deal with a baby."  However, events continue to spiral out of control, as zookeepers turn on each other, and Iris doesn't know who to trust.  It might not be a member of the elephant species that is the real killer.  The human species might be more deadly to Iris.

Once again, Ann Littlewood has placed Iris Oakley in jeopardy in an enthralling story that includes controversy over elephants, zoos, and endangered species, as well as the trafficking in animals.  And, I don't think Iris has anything to worry about with her mothering skills.  As the go-to person for all of her friends, she'll have that mothering bit down pat.  It's going to be interesting to see how capable she is at juggling her zoo job and motherhood.  I'm sure Ann Littlewood has plans for her in the follow-up to Did Not Survive.  Readers will be waiting.

Ann Littlewood's website is

Did Not Survive by Ann Littlewood.  Poisoned Pen Press, ©2010. ISBN 9781590587454 (hardcover), 250p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a review copy, knowing she would be appearing for Authors @ The Teague on Oct. 18th.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

The life of a zookeeper has always been fascinating to me! I used to spend hours at the zoo (actually went nearly every day--I bought a zoo membership) when my son was a toddler. The behind the scenes world as well as what the visitors saw was just so interesting! I'll have to look for this one--thanks!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Elizabeth. Ann Littlewood's knowledge makes this book very interesting. I think she really knows the behind-the-scenes politics and infighting.

bermudaonion said...

Sounds like a great story - I love that there is background information about zoos and endangered animals in the book.

Lesa said...


Littlewood gives a great deal of information, but it's part of the plot, so it doesn't overwhelm the story.

Amy said...

Zookeeping is also an area of interest for me--thanks for pointing out this book, it sounds really interesting.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Amy. I hope you enjoy it!

Margaret said...

I really enjoyed Ann's two books. I hope there will be a third. I love zoo mysteries. Her's are a little darker than Betty Webb's zoo series, but you really "feel" you are there at the zoo, and Iris Oakley is a great protagonist. I also read a zoo book by Michael Allan Mallory and Marilyn Victor a couple of years ago that was very enjoyable. I understand that they will have a second one published at the end of the year. Looking forward to it. Thanks for the review of "Did Not Survive," Lesa.
Margaret Franson

Lesa said...


I hosted Ann at the library yesterday, and she has plans for a third book. I asked her what animal she was thinking of using, and she said parrots and snakes. You can see the recap of her appearance on my blog today.