Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Otter of Death by Betty Webb

Teddy Bentley is back in the U.S. after her adventures in The Puffin of Death. And, the zookeeper is as courageous and sharp as ever in Betty Webb's latest Gunn Zoo Mystery, The Otter of Death. (And, check out that cover. One of the cutest I've ever seen.)

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

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.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Jackie is a big fan of Betty Webb's Lena Jones series.

Lesa said...

I like the Lena Jones books, too, Jeff. But, I can see why Betty needs a break now and then.

Charlotte said...

Lesa, when you showed this book in the May list of books I immediately downloaded a sample of this book and I plan to buy it.
I fell in love with the cover. It is so adorable. I pick out a book a lot of times for the cover first, then I check out what is inside. Do you do this?
I love otters anyway. I have a friend who raised a baby Otter she found in her creek in her backyard. She kept him till he became more than she could deal with. They get into a lot of trouble. There is a rescue in Atlanta that took him. She was so sad to give him up. She knew she had to do what was the best for him. He was so much fun.

Lesa said...

Yes, Charlotte. I've been known to pick the cover first. And, there are books, even as a teen, that I wouldn't read because I didn't like the cover art. Poor author! They usually don't get to pick, and there I am, rejecting their book because I don't like the cover.

I love your otter story! And, Betty says that scene is based on a true incident when an otter was found with a video camera.

Bev said...

I'm in the middle of reading this right now. So far, so good.

Lesa said...

Let us know what you though when you finish, Bev.

You won't believe this Belden Cables said...

The mystery was very well crafted, the animals a delight and I love the supporting characters. The inner life of a zoo comes to life in this series. Each book in the series is interesting and a fun mystery with well crafted clues. . The author has a pleasing writing styl.e. I look forward to the next in series .