It's obvious that Betty Webb fell in love with Iceland when she was researching her latest Gunn Zoo mystery. The Puffin of Death is an atmospheric story, rich with the details of Icelandic scenery, customs and people. When a group of eccentric tourists from Arizona arrive in the country, with too much history amongst them, Iceland becomes the setting for murder.
And, it's poor Theodora "Teddy" Bentley, the zookeeper, who gets caught up in the messy, unlikely murder investigation. Teddy is sent to Iceland to pick up a polar bear cub, two Icelandic foxes, and a pair of puffins for the Gunn Zoo. But it will take time to learn to take care of them, so she has time to do some sightseeing. However, she didn't mean to catch sight of a body, a body she recognized from the airport. The victim was part of an American birding group, but he was also the winner of the largest Powerball lottery in history. And, it seems all kinds of people might have wanted him dead, including the boyfriend of Teddy's roommate in Iceland. Despite Inspector Thorvald Haraldsson's insistence that Teddy leave the investigation to the professionals, when Bryndis, her fellow zookeeper, asks her to help her boyfriend, Teddy reluctantly agrees. Well, she knows more about Americans than the Icelandic police, doesn't she?
The Puffin of Death continues the adventures of the spirited zookeeper. But, Teddy acknowledges her own weaknesses. She isn't perfect, and knows she makes mistakes at times. She certainly isn't good at making up stories about her own past, and some of the shrewd birders see right through her. And, she certainly intends to keep Inspector Haraldsson in the loop. Is it her fault she's always in the wrong place at the right time, where she hears a few more stories, and puts together some clues? And, if Iceland itself hadn't conspired against her, she would have told Haraldsson what she discovered.
Webb's latest, The Puffin of Death, is amusing at times with a rich cast of odd characters, including Bryndis, her boyfriend, Ragnar, and all of the Arizona birders. While the story intensifies, it's the country itself that dominates the story. The accounts of the Icelandic animals and birds may encourage readers to pack for a trip. The Puffin of Death is a perfect mystery for readers who enjoy armchair travel, with its vivid, loving descriptions of Iceland.
Betty Webb's website is www.bettywebb-mystery.com
The Puffin of Death by Betty Webb. Poisoned Pen Press. 2015. ISBN9781464204142 (hardcover), 243p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.