Wednesday, May 02, 2018
The Otter of Death by Betty Webb
It's time for the annual otter count in Gunn Landing Harbor, and, despite her busy schedule, Teddy is a volunteer. She's happy to see one of her favorite otters, Maureen, but intrigued by Maureen's new tool. She's found a cell phone. Once Teddy retrieves it, she discovers it's still filming. And, it's last screen shows the face of a murder victim, Stuart Booth. Teddy calls the sheriff's department, but if rumors are to be believed, there are all kinds of women who might have wanted the Marine Biology instructor dead.
But, Teddy's fiance, Sheriff Joe Rejas, has a suspect in mind. Lila Conyers was one of the first women to complain about Booth sexually harassing her, fourteen or fifteen years earlier. Teddy doesn't believe that Lila is a killer, though. While Joe prefers that Teddy stay away from his murder investigation, Teddy is convinced her fellow liveboarder (on a houseboat) isn't responsible for Booth's death. There are all kinds of suspects. Which one shoots Teddy?
Betty Webb doesn't write cozy zoo mysteries. While the cover of the book may be adorable, the book delves into issues such as sexual harassment and problems with the coastal environment. And, the light, amusing tone of the story is deceiving. There are educational, informative elements about the behavior of animals. Teddy, as narrator, discusses those elements in the course of her day-to-day job at the zoo.
The Gunn Zoo mysteries combine weighty issues with Teddy's personal life. There are funny scenes with Teddy's mother, a wealthy woman who climbs higher each time she marries. In The Otter of Death, Teddy is struggling with details about her upcoming marriage. Why would Joe expect her to sell her beloved houseboat, the Merilee? And, as much as she likes her future mother-in-law, Teddy thinks her behavior is suspicious.
While I always enjoy starting with the first in the series, readers could start with The Otter of Death. But, why would you want to miss the previous four adventures with other zoo animals?
Betty Webb's website is www.bettywebb-mystery.com
The Otter of Death by Betty Webb. Poisoned Pen Press, 2018. ISBN 9781464209901 (hardcover), 276p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.