by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of The Puffin of Death, along with a link to purchase the book.
As a zookeeper for the Gunn Zoo in Gunn Landing, California, Theodore “Teddy” Bentley knows better than to resist the orders of the zoo’s imperious owner, Isola. However, even Teddy is alarmed to find herself booked on the next day’s flight out to Iceland to spend a week there preparing the transfer of a polar bear cub back from the Reykjavik Zoo.
While the unsettling warm August weather is rather surprising, far more alarming is Teddy’s discovery of the body of an American birder with a very American gunshot wound. Having recently won the biggest Powerball payout in history, Simon Parr used some of his half-billion dollar winnings to take his entire Arizona birding association to Iceland. The Elvis-styled birder also used his new money to attract a virtual harem of mistresses, more than a few of whom are included among the Geronimo County Birding Association. His wife, best-selling author of a female Indiana Jones-type series, may declare that she has a very accepting European attitude toward her open marriage, but the rejected women and their husbands may have been far less complacent.
Detective Thorvaald Haraldsson—he actually is a Thor—has very little patience with a tiny, cute American with a history of involvement in murder investigations. Although he clears her of suspicion, Thor warns her repeatedly to not stick her pretty little nose into his murder investigation. Crime may be a rarity in his country of three hundred fifty thousand people, but he’s very confident that he and his department can solve this murder on their own.
Teddy is able to resist the brainless birding model Dawn’s pleas for help, but not those of Teddy’s roommate and Reykjavik zookeeper Bryndis Sigurdsdottir. The Valkyrie band singer fears that her own boyfriend may be a suspect, so she demands that Teddy infiltrate the American birders and discover who brought American violence to their beautiful island.
This fourth mystery featuring animal-loving zookeeper Teddy Bentley continues to highlight fascinating and compelling lore about animals and their care. Teddy loves her charges for their uncomplicated goals and purity; humans are far more deceptive and confusing. Along with the charming polar bear cub Magnus, are two Icelandic foxes, gorgeous horses, and many, many puffins.
The land is as beautiful as it is dangerous, as very active volcanoes continue to emit “bumps.” The complacent Icelanders don’t worry about anything that they can’t control. Their language is as unfathomable as their cuisine—rotted shark, anyone?—but the author does an admirable job attempting to explain the language’s origin, usage, and use in family names. In such a small country, of course they need an app to prevent inconvenient incest dating.
Teddy’s cynical humor with humans is never present with her animals, but fortunately she has enough numerous entertaining interactions with the Geronimo Birders to make this a delightfully funny mystery. The neighboring movie sets of a Berserker Viking film and science fiction movie only add to absurdity. The author’s mix of devotion to animals, clever dialogue, and travelogue details will have readers booking their next flight to Iceland, along with their orders of future installments of this always original and enjoyable mystery series.
To enter to win a copy of The Puffin of Death, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Puffin,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 21, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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