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The Anteater of Death: A Gunn Zoo Mystery Hardcover – Nov 15 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (Nov. 15 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590585607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590585603
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 14.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,056,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Webb, author of Desert Cut and four other Lena Jones mysteries, launches a new series featuring a warm and unconventional heroine, zookeeper Theodora 'Teddy' Bentley. Teddy is dismayed to learn that a pregnant anteater in her care, Lucy, appears to have mauled to death a prominent patron of California's Gunn Landing Zoo, Grayson Harrill. When it turns out that someone shot Harrill first, Teddy turns sleuth to discover who framed her beloved Lucy. The colorful supporting cast includes Teddy's beauty queen mother, who makes her daughter call her Caro; Harrill's wife and descendant of the zoo's founder; and the zoo's controversial director. Webb deftly weaves zoological lore into the fast-moving plot... The book's human perspective conveys everything we need to know about Lucy, her habitat and her behavior." -- Publishers Weekly

"Webb (Desert Cut, 2008, etc.) kicks off her new series with a bright heroine and an appealingly offbeat setting: a firm foundation later episodes can build on."  -- Kirkus Reviews

"Webb, author of the well-written Lena Jones PI series, not only presents a clear picture of what it is like to work in a zoo but also introduces an engaging new protagonist who will appeal to mystery buffs who enjoy light animal mysteries." -- Library Journal

"Webb’s new series combines a good puzzle with animal lore, a behind-the-scenes look at zoo operations, and plenty of humor." -- Booklist

About the Author

Betty Webb is the author of the acclaimed Lena Jones mystery series, which includes Desert Cut and Desert Wives. A former Californian who once lived on a boat, like the zookeeper protagonist of The Anteater of Death, Betty now lives in landlocked Arizona, where she volunteers at the Phoenix Zoo. She also teaches Creative Writing at Phoenix College and is a member of the National Association of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 46 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I have fallen in love with an Anteater! Dec 10 2008
By M. C. Carter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Buy or borrow this book. Do not steal this book....that would make Lucy mad and apparently that's one thing you never want to do....go head to head or toe to talon with an enraged anteater.

I have long been a fan of the author's other series but was blown away by this book. Lucy and her keeper Teddy are fresh and wonderful, the zoo and the marina and the castle are superb locations. I thought I pegged the killer early (and I turned out to be right) but that didn't take away from the sheer joy of the book. There is a nice cast of slightly 'different' supporting characters but the craziness is well contained and only adds to the joy...(if you are a reader of the Meg Langslow books by Donna Andrews, the crazy supporting cast is very similar.) And there's a nice love story and a hunky ex boyfriend now the sheriff and an on-the lam father and an entire zoo full of friends...both animal and human.

Buy this book borrow this book, read this book and love this book!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Noble Animals and Savage Humans Dec 1 2008
By Steven Rigolosi - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Zookeeper Teddy Bentley is caught between worlds. The divorced daughter of a money-hungry forever-dieting society vixen, she prefers living on her rickety houseboat to cohabiting with Caro (whom she's not allowed to call "Mother") in the unspeakably expensive neighborhood of their swanky California coastal home. Having been burned too many times--most recently by a cheating ex-husband--Teddy prefers the company of her animal charges at the privately owned Gunn Zoo, as well as her own misfit pets (DJ Bonz the three-legged dog, and Miss Priss the one-eyed cat).

Webb has crafted an intricate mystery that goes beyond the usual whodunnit to touch on social stratification (a wealthy snob is trying to have liveaboarders at the marina evicted because their boats aren't upscale enough), social climbing and the problems of "old money," and the difficulty of learning to trust when everyone around you seems greedy, conniving, and/or homicidal.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Anteater of Death, and was (pleasantly) surprised to find that the book has two sources of suspense: not only the murders that Teddy sets out to investigate, but also the behavior of zoo animals. You spectate tensely and jaw-clenchingly as a gentle giraffe gives birth (Will the baby survive the six-foot drop?), as a child falls into the bear pit, as a mated pair of wolves have a bloody lovers' quarrel, and even as Teddy herself has a shaky encounter with one of her beloved animals.

I love a mystery that makes you think, and The Anteater of Death makes you speculate on the similarities and differences between humans and zoo animals, as we watch the worst-behaved of the animals mirror the interactions of the venal humans around them, and the best-behaved of the animals relentlessly put human beings to shame. An added bonus is the sleaziest, creepiest, most disgustingly sexist villain I've read in a while, who provides suitable fodder for the reader's bile as well as some terrific comic moments. Here's hoping Teddy will be back for more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
wouldn't call it a cozy . . . . Jan. 3 2013
By Larkin - Published on
Format: Paperback
The author's writing style was good; her dialogue was excellent, and her characters were well drawn. I saw no spelling/grammar errors, etc. She was thorough in her research of zoo activity, as well. I did think there was a surfeit of characters, which detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Warning: there may be spoilers ahead.

I would not call this book a cozy, but that's just my subjective definition of one. I'd never thought about it before, but I guess I've decided that a bunch of little factors, added together, decrease a book's "coziness". For starters, there is more than one description of someone vomiting. I can only tolerate one per cozy, thank you very much! :) Also, in my definition of a cozy, there is less foul language than this book had, and there isn't as much emphasis on romance (past or present). As a matter of fact, I would call this book 1/3 documentary (info on the zoo animals, etc.), 1/3 romance novel, and 1/3 who-dunnit.

One thing I disliked was that the author has her protagonist whine about her "lost love" at age 15. She blames her parents for separating them, and spends way too much time wondering if she would've escaped years of emotional trauma if she'd been allowed to stay with her teen crush. As a parent, I wouldn't have been happy about my 15-year old sleeping with a 17-year old, not to mention when he turned 18 and she was still a minor. What the parents did was drastic, but we never get to hear what steps they may have taken first to dissuade her from the possible consequences of teen pregnancy, etc. It just bothers me that this 30-year old woman is still thinking like a lust-driven 15-year old, instead of realizing that her parents weren't so "evil" for doing this. The author gives Teddy some good character traits, but for me, they were overshadowed by this facet of the story.

I enjoyed the zoo information, and (if I were planning on reading another in this series) I would want more information about different animals. Before this book, I knew almost nothing about anteaters. I did enjoy the scenes with Lucy/Teddy interaction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Webb is equally skilled with edgy P.I.s and funny amateur sleuths. Sept. 9 2010
By Cathy G. Cole - Published on
Format: Paperback
First Line: Intrigued by the commotion underneath the banana palm, Lucy curled her four-inch claws under her leathery pads and moved forward on her knuckles to investigate.

If Lucy, the pregnant Giant Anteater at the Gunn Zoo in central California, didn't kill the man found dead in her enclosure, who did? It's up to her keeper, Teddy Bentley, to find out before the anteater is shipped to another zoo in disgrace.

Before Teddy can really get started, another human bites the dust, the monkeys have a hissy fit, the wolves are in a tizzy, and the rich Harbor folks are trying to evict Teddy from her houseboat. Has Teddy got what it takes to save Lucy-- and herself?

I have long been a fan of Webb's series set right here in the Phoenix metropolitan area which feature P.I. Lena Jones. I also know that Webb can do humor after reading her blog entry about being left at a truck stop while on a book tour. When I learned that she was starting a new-- and cozier-- series featuring a zookeeper, I was eager to try it out.

Although The Anteater of Death features one of those characters I want to slap-- the Annoying Mother-- I really enjoyed the book. Teddy has a good sense of humor that made me laugh out loud more than once, she truly cares for animals, she deals as best she can with The Mother, and she has good instincts on how to conduct an investigation:

"Since I couldn't seem to find any actual clues, the solution to the mystery might be found in behavior. For all their purported brainpower, people are still animals. Deny them food, exercise, or sex, and they get cranky. Threaten them and they become downright dangerous."

Although the Bad Guy should've been obvious to me, the reveal came as a surprise-- mostly because the book was filled with attention grabbers, both two- and four-legged. This isn't called a "Gunn Zoo mystery" for nothing. Animals do play significant roles in the book, so if you're allergic, this may not be the book-- or the series-- for you. I loved the plot, the setting, most of the characters, and all the animals.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very charming debut to a new series Sept. 6 2009
By Dawn as Cattle Capers(tm) - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What animal lover could resist picking up a mystery novel titled, "Anteater of Death"? This novel is a very charming introduction to a new series. Volunteering at an Arizona zoo, Ms. Webb is knowledgeable about the inner workings. It is interesting to see revealed the hidden background of a zoo; in this case, privately owned Gunn Zoo which is open to the public. The author pours in a wealth of information regarding animal behavior which is fascinating for animal lovers, and, particularly, the reader learns a lot about the featured mammal, a giant anteater from Belize. I was charmed by the opening chapter, which is from the point of view of the anteater, and was pleasantly surprised by the last chapter, which also wraps it all up from the anteater's point of view once again. Both chapters were very believable and fun to read.

The new sleuth introduced in this series is Teddy Bentley, who lives frugally on a houseboat with her pets because she refuses to touch the dirty money left to her by her criminal father. Her mother is a wealthy socialite; Teddy works at the Gunn Zoo out of love for animals and principle, wanting to take care of herself without leaning on the family. When Lucy, the pregnant anteater, is accused of murder, Teddy fights the zoo owners and administration to absolve Lucy of the crime and discover the true killer. She also deals with the politics of harbor living, absolving a coworker of false accusations, and the travails of a past romance when the sheriff investigating the homicide is an ex-boyfriend. Teddy is feisty, principled, loyal, and caring, which makes her a character worth rooting for. I do take a 1/2 star off because the villain "spills the beans," tying the plot up at the end, rather than letting the main character bring out the final details through her investigation, but it's a great start to what looks like a fun new series--particularly for animal lovers. I've heard at a conference what the next novel "murder" will be, and it sounds really fun. I am looking forward to picking up the next book in this series when it comes out.

This novel is humorous and light-hearted, very different from her Lena Jones series.Desert Cut: A Lena Jones Mystery (Lena Jones Mysteries (Paperback)) There is also no graphic sex or really bad language.

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