THE LLAMA OF DEATH
Poisoned Pen Press January, 2013
Zookeeper Theodora (Teddy) Bentley has been assigned to conduct llama rides at the local Renaissance Faire. During the night, the actor playing Henry VIII is found dead in the llama pen, shot with a crossbow. Unfortunately, the very capable sheriff is out of town. In his absence, his incompetent 5th-in-command blunders through the crime scene and ends up arresting Teddy's mother for the murder. He obviously has no chance of finding the real killer so Teddy decides she herself must do some investigating if her mother is ever to get out of jail.
THE LLAMA OF DEATH is a fun bit of fluff. The costumed melodrama of the Renaissance Faire provides an appropriate background for this light comedy with larger-than-life characters who are in no danger of being believable. Teddy's mother, Caro, for instance, is a manipulative flibbertigibbet whose hobby is marrying rich men. Teddy's father is a charming embezzler on the run from police, who comes out of hiding to help solve the murder because he enjoys living dangerously. Readers needn't bother trying to figure out who could be the killer among the large number of minor characters because Teddy keeps key discoveries in her investigation to herself.
Teddy's houseboat in the harbor just north of Monterey, California, adds charm to the story, as does the considerable amount of animal information that is included. THE LLAMA OF DEATH is third in the series after THE ANTEATER OF DEATH and THE KOALA OF DEATH.
- Verna Suit
G. P. Putnam & Sons January, 2013
Robert Crais never disappoints. Once again he has produced a terrific story with characters you care about that keeps you glued to the pages.
Chapter One of SUSPECT opens in Afghanistan, with a Marine bomb-detection team of man and dog checking out a road in advance of their unit. The worst happens and the German shepherd, Maggie, loses her handler to a suicide bomber. Chapter Two introduces a pair of police officers in Los Angeles who stumble into a violent crime scene. Officer Scott James is badly wounded but survives. Not so his partner, Stephanie.
What happens next is no surprise. Scott cannot face returning to his old unit so he decides to try the K9 Corps instead. Maggie has been retired from the Marines and is donated to the police department. She and Scott become partners on a trial basis. In some ways it is an ideal pairing. Both Maggie and Scott suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, repeatedly reliving traumatic scenes in their dreams, and feeling guilt over their former partners' deaths. But Scott has never owned a dog before, and Maggie is wary of forming new attachments. They're not a "pack" yet.
SUSPECT's plot is basically two intertwined stories: Scott's search for Stephanie's killer, and the process of him and Maggie getting used to each other and undergoing a joint rehabilitation. The action heats up dramatically as Scott becomes a suspect himself and races to find answers in order to keep his freedom. But basically SUSPECT is the story of a grown-up boy and his dog. It includes lots of detail on the training of K9 dogs. Chapters written from Maggie's point of view give insights into dog psychology. The author is known as a writer of noir but it's tough to read some of the scenes in this heartwarming book and keep a dry eye. SUSPECT could easily be recommended to young adults. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
- Verna Suit
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