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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 (Dec 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590585607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590585603
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.3 x 22.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,519,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

As a journalist, Betty Webb interviewed U.S. presidents, astronauts, and Nobel Prize winners, as well as the homeless, dying, and polygamy runaways. The dark Lena Jones mysteries are based on stories she covered as a reporter. Betty’s humorous Gunn Zoo series debuted with the critically acclaimed The Anteater of Death, followed by The Koala of Death. A book reviewer at Mystery Scene Magazine, Betty is a member of National Federation of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and the National Organization of Zoo Keepers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9886c978) out of 5 stars 50 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98707f60) out of 5 stars 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
HASH(0x995cbec4) out of 5 stars 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x986fbf84) out of 5 stars 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
HASH(0x98709d50) out of 5 stars Very charming debut to a new series Sept. 6 2009
By Amazon Customer - 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x986fdc9c) out of 5 stars Outstanding Debut of Zoo Mystery Dec 27 2008
By Lesa Holstine - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When one of your favorite mystery authors makes a departure from their regular series, do you follow along? Do you worry about the new characters, and whether you'll be just as happy with the new series? I've been disappointed at times. I've read every one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser books, but I don't care about his characters, Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall.

Betty Webb is well-known for her Lena Jones series, and, naturally, since they're set here in Arizona, they are particularly popular here. These are somewhat dark books. Betty herself says that the first one, <em>Desert Noir</em>, sets the tone. So, when she started a new series, a slightly lighter one set in a zoo, readers might have worried a little. There's no need to worry. The Anteater of Death is a stunning debut for the Zoo Mysteries featuring Teddy Bentley.

Was Lucy, the anteater, framed? Theodora "Teddy" Bentley was the zookeeper who found a body in the anteater's enclosure at the private Gunn Zoo in California. She worried about her beloved anteater's fate, until she learned Lucy didn't kill the wealthy victim, the husband of one of the Gunn family members. However, she was even more sure that a fellow zookeeper wasn't the killer when Zorah was arrested for the murder. With the sheriff convinced he arrested the killer, Teddy realizes she's the only one who cares enough to find a murderer who is threatening her beloved zoo.

The odds are stacked against Teddy. The sheriff is her old boyfriend, Joe Rejas. She and Joe were separated when her socialite mother sent her to boarding school in high school. They both married others, but now they're back in Gunn Landing. She has to fight her attraction to Joe, not only to find a killer, but to protect her zany mother and her scoundrel of a father, a likable con man. She also has to contend with the large, extended Gunn family, and the complications of the Gunn Family Trust, a trust that supports the zoo, but could also doom it.

Webb's new mystery is a remarkable book, combining fascinating facts of animal and zoo life with a complicated plot. There's an interesting cast of characters, all with unique traits that animate them. Teddy and her family have a complex relationship that can be amusing, and, for Teddy, frustrating at times. Teddy, and her love of the zoo animals, bring this book to life. Webb's knowledge of zoos and animals shine through in a story that wouldn't be nearly as interesting without the animals.

Betty Webb's fans won't be disappointed. She continues to educate readers, this time about zoos and animals. Fans of her Lena Jones series shouldn't hesitate to pick up this mystery. The Anteater of Death is an outstanding traditional mystery. It should bring new readers to Webb's challenging books.

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