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Gunn Zoo Mystery #1

The Anteater of Death

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If Lucy, the pregnant giant anteater from Belize, didn't kill the man found dead in her enclosure, who did? California zookeeper Teddy Bentley must find the real murderer before her furry friend is shipped off to another zoo in disgrace.
Then another human bites the dust, the monkeys riot, the wolves go nuts - and that's just the beginning. Teddy's father, on the lam from the feds for embezzling millions, gets targeted by a local gangster. Her socialite mother, Caro, a former beauty queen who loathes Teddy's dangerous job, starts introducing her to "eligible bachelors"; but Teddy has already given her heart to Sheriff Joe Rejas, a migrant worker's son. Caro is not pleased.

Zoo life, animal lore, and the leaky ups and downs of California central-coast houseboat living create a thrilling backdrop for murder.

301 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2008

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About the author

Betty Webb

34 books157 followers
As a journalist and literary critic for more than 20 years, Betty -- a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, where her detective Lena Jones also lives -- has interviewed U. S. presidents, Nobel prize-winners, astronauts who’ve walked on the moon, polygamy runaways, the homeless, and the hopeless.

Now retired from journalism to write full time, she also contributes the Small Press column for Mystery Scene magazine and teaches creative writing at Phoenix College.
In her writing, Betty makes liberal use of her own varied background. She earned her way through art school by working as a folk singer but eventually gave up singing to concentrate on her art career. At various times she has picked cotton, raised chickens which laid blue eggs (Speckled Hamburgs), worked in a zoo, been a go-go dancer and horse breeder, taught Sunday School, founded a literary magazine, helped rebuild a long-abandoned 120-year-old farm house, and back-packed the Highlands of Scotland alone.

In 1982, Betty moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where her Lena Jones novels are set, but her roots are in Hamilton, Alabama, where most of her extended family still lives. In 2000 she published The Webb Family of Alabama: Survivors of Change, which focused on the descendants of her half-Seneca, half-English great-great-grandfather, William Douglas Webb, who ran away to sea at the age of 16, then after 14 wild years, settled down to farm peacefully in Hamilton. Recent DNA testing, however, has revealed that her seafaring ancestor harbored a big secret: he might not have been a Webb after all, but the descendant of a New Jersey colonist family named Price. Betty is now working to unravel this real-life mystery: did William Douglas Price change his name to Webb. Was he on the run from the law? (As a mystery writer, she kinda hopes he was)

On her mother’s side, Betty can trace her roots back to the Barons of Riddell in medieval Scotland. The Riddells, friends and financial supporters of the poet Robert Burns, did not always enjoy the best of reputations. The opera, Lucia di Lammermore, about a young bride who decapitates her husband on their wedding night, was based upon a real life incident in the Riddell family. But the Riddells maintain that Lucy (her real name) merely scratched her bridegroom, and that he simply overreacted when he screamed out, "Murder!" Anyway, that’s the Riddells' story and they're sticking to it.

"The impact of my unusual family upon my life has been profound," Betty says. "That's why I thought it would be intriguing to create a detective who had no idea of where she came from or who her parents were. Creating the orphaned Lena Jones has helped me appreciate my own ancestral heritage - both the good and the bad." About the recent DNA testing results, she adds, "All this time the Webbs were keeping an even bigger secret than the Riddells -- and they didn’t even know they were! How could I not have become a mystery novelist."
(from http://www.bettywebb-mystery.com/bio....)

* Lena Jones Mystery
* Gunn Zoo Mystery

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5 stars
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379 (39%)
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320 (32%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 182 reviews
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,098 reviews2,665 followers
February 7, 2017
When the body of Grayson was discovered in the giant anteater’s enclosure with claw and scratch marks over him, the obvious conclusion was that Lucy had attacked him and ripped him to death. But Teddy Bentley, Lucy’s keeper, knew the pregnant anteater wouldn’t have killed Grayson. But worse was to come when one of the top keepers was arrested for his murder. Now Teddy knew there was something suspicious going on; and it was up to her to discover what it was.

The Gunn Zoo was home to a large variety of animals and people. The majority of the people involved in the upkeep of the zoo had only the animals’ welfare at heart. But there was obviously something or someone threatening the lifestyle of animals and humans alike…

As Teddy drew the ire of many around her with her constant questions – probing and intense – her one thought was saving Zorah from a murder charge. But when another body turned up, the heat was on. And the danger to Teddy heightened…

The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb is a murder mystery with a difference. Centred on the Gunn Zoo and its inhabitants, the plot was light and entertaining. I certainly didn’t predict the twist at the end! Recommended.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,891 reviews1,922 followers
February 14, 2013
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Description: But if Lucy, the pregnant Giant Anteater from Belize, didn't kill the man found dead in her enclosure, who did? California zookeeper Teddy Bentley must find the real murderer before her furry friend is shipped off to another zoo in disgrace.

Then another human bites the dust, the monkeys riot, and the wolves go nuts. Things get worse when the snooty folks at Gunn Landing Harbor attempt to evict Teddy from the Merilee, her beloved houseboat. That's just the beginning. Her father, on the lam from the Feds for embezzling millions, gets targeted by a local gangster; and Caro, Teddy's socialite mother, a former beauty queen who loathes Teddy's dangerous job, starts introducing her to "eligible bachelors." But Teddy has already given her heart to Sheriff Joe Rejas, a migrant worker's son. Caro is not pleased.

Zoo life, animal lore, and the leaky ups and downs of Central Coast California houseboat living create a thrilling backdrop for murder.

My Review: Very pleasant read, enjoyable way to wile away a few hours, and a chance to go behind the scenes of a zoo.

Plus I now love Lucy the Anteater as a character.

None of the human characters left me with such warm feelings, though I like Teddy and can see she'll be interesting as time goes by. Joe, her love interest, is clearly being set up as a complex character with A Past, and Teddy's mother Caro is more to my liking by the end than she is at the beginning.

But. And this is a big one. The killer and the motive for the killings of the two characters who die...well, it wasn't deft, and it wasn't in keeping with the build-up. Way too little made of the killer, at least for the sake of the big reveal, so we're not given any click of puzzle pieces coming together until too late to make it fully satisfying.

Still and all, it's a darn sight more fun to see a mystery keep me guessing than require me to close my eyes and will the knowledge away every twenty pages! So this series is a next, please, as I move on to book two. Always a good feeling for a serial series murderer...I mean murder mystery fan.

Of course I do.
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,768 reviews332 followers
December 29, 2016
Book on CD read by Hillary Huber

Zookeeper Theodora (Teddy) Bentley is responsible for the Gunn Zoo’s Giant Anteater, Lucy. When cleaning Lucy’s enclosure Teddy finds the body of a man. But Teddy is certain that he wasn’t killed by Lucy, and she has to prove it.

As cozy mysteries go, this is a pretty good one. A zookeeper is an interesting – and different – occupation for an amateur sleuth. Teddy’s life is complicated by a mother (Caro) who is a former beauty queen and socialite, and a father who is wanted by the feds for embezzling. As if that’s not enough to deal with, the local Sheriff is a former high-school flame, and it seems the attraction is still hot. Of course, Caro disapproves of the migrant-worker’s son and persists in trying to introduce Teddy to a wealthy eligible bachelor. And then a few miscreants at the harbor where Teddy moors her boat – The Merilee – are threatening to have her evicted from her berth.

Webb gives tidbits of information on the animals Teddy cares for, as well as the joys and challenges of living aboard a refitted trawler. We get some back story on Teddy and Sheriff Joe Rejas, as well as Teddy’s family. Teddy is a strong female lead, intelligent and self-sufficient, if a little foolhardy at times. There were plenty of suspects to keep me guessing, and a reasonably satisfactory ending. I’ll definitely read more of this series.

Hillary Huber’s performance on the audio was less than stellar. She has good pacing, but I really hated the voices she used for most of the characters.
Profile Image for Betty.
2,006 reviews52 followers
May 23, 2019
The first book in the Gunn Zoo series an entertaining a fun read full of animal stories.The inside workings of a Zoo are discussed.The characters are developed and the areas descriptions it you at a Zoo and on a houseboat long California central coast.
Theodora Bentley aka Teddy found a body in pregnant Lucy enclosure and it appeared Lucy was responsible for his death. The another's exhibit is a most popular of the zoo exhibits. Teddy is worried about her friend being shipped out to another zoo. We learned about other displays as monkeys and wolves. There are several subplots that added to the story. The family history as her father has emblazoned money from his firm and the FBI is looking for him. Her Mother wants Teddy to married a rich society man and dislikes her relationship with the Sheriff Joe Rejas. Her Mother does not like Teddy living in a houseboat from her Father. All the twists and turns take will keep you turning the pages until the end. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book and series. In fact, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Betty Webb's Lena Jones series.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,618 reviews478 followers
December 17, 2012
This is a very strong three; it's almost a four.

I don't know quite what to make of this book, to be honest. It has all sorts of things that normally push my buttons - central female is the only truly compentent women, she doesn't seem to have close female friends (though she claims otherwise), other women are jealous of her, tragic love and so on.

And yet, I finished it, and there were times when the book really swept me up. Those times when you read and don't realize that you have passed x number of stops on the ride to work. I think part of this reason is the fact that Teddy and the characters are likable. In part, this is because Webb seems to subvert or shake Teddy's view - it's like Webb is realizing the faults and is correcting them (this is done in regards to the other women in the book). The second half of the book is where this occurs and is stronger than the first half. Teddy really is a great character and isn't perfect, nor does she pretend to be. Maybe Webb was also trying to get the reader in on the subjective view or something. If that was the case, it didn't quite work. However, I was glad to see the development in the later half of the book.

Additionally, while the romance sub-plot felt to "here you go", the parts of the book that take place at the zoo are extremely well written and really make the book shine. If Webb just wrote a book about a zoo without the mystery and romance, I have a feeling it would be a great book. The animals are really brought to life and while the comparsion to certain human characters might be to obvious in terms of symbolism, who cares? It was still fun.

I'll be trying the second one in the series.
Profile Image for Laura.
468 reviews21 followers
December 18, 2019
On my way to the wolves, the Collie's magpie jay gave a big squawk and flew to the front of the large aviary to see me. I stopped to say hello.
"Good morning, Carlos. How's my favorite cuckoo bird?"
As beautiful as he was, with his royal blue and ebony plumage, the bird was clearly demented. For some obscure reason known only to his tiny avian mind, he had been trying to coax me into mating with him. Every day he offered me a twig to help him build our honeymoon suite. As I approached the aviary, Carlos stuck today's twig through the grid while mimicking the call of the Asian fairy bluebird on the perch behind him.
"Silly Carlos is a love-addled fool."
Delighted by my response, the magpie tilted his head, raised his crest, and pushed the twig out further. Touched, I took it. It's nice to be loved, even if only by a confused bird.


Meet Theodora Iona Esmeralda Bentley. You can call her Teddy for short. To the ongoing chagrin of her mother, Teddy has decided to throw off the blue blood norms she was born into and actually *work* for a living. Not only that, her choice of occupation is decidedly unglamourous--she's a zookeeper. She's perfectly content in her small village located on the California coast between Santa Cruz and Monterey. Her home is a houseboat, and her designated charge at the zoo is a giant anteater named Lucy.

But her peaceful existence is about to be shaken up. Non-surprisingly, the annual zoo fund-raising gala had good attendance, and everyone had a booze-induced good time. But Teddy IS in for a surprise when she attends to Lucy the next morning...and finds a dead human body in the corner of her enclosure. The zoo director's knee-jerk reaction is to blame the death on Lucy. She did enjoy a bit of a post-mortem snack after all. But the autopsy results show the victim was shot prior to falling into the anteater's enclosure, which opens up more questions than the ones answered.

Teddy finds herself in the middle of the investigation. She is a reluctant sleuth at first, but her desire to protect her animal charges and prove the innocence of her fellow zookeepers finally propels her into action. Who exactly is behind the murder? And in other news, what is involved in the birth of a giraffe? Both of these questions are answered in this quirky cozy mystery.

My two cents: Webb's offering is surprisingly good for the cozy mystery genre....or maybe I'm just getting soft as Christmas approaches. Either way, I loved getting a behind the scenes look at zoo life in general and the giant anteater in particular. Teddy is easy to root for as a protagonist. She's feisty without being annoying (a balance that many authors in this genre miss). She also actually has somewhat decent motives behind her sleuthing. The plot moves at a good clip, and the twists kept me guessing a bit. Given 3 stars or a rating of "Good". This is the first of a series, and I recommend checking this out from the library if you are an animal lover. It might be a series worth shelling out some cash for!

Further reading: A link to the San Diego Zoo's information page on their giant anteater. https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/anima...
~~While the privately owned zoo in The Anteater of Death is small, many large city zoos have also transferred to private ownership, including the Columbus Zoo. Here's an article explaining some of the reasons why. https://reason.org/commentary/zoo-pri...
Profile Image for Karla Huebner.
Author 4 books67 followers
April 6, 2023
This was a fun, fairly light-hearted mystery and made a nice break. One of the main characters is a pregnant anteater, who is sometimes bad-tempered and definitely capable of killing humans with her long talons--and initially she's suspected of doing exactly that, until a bullet wound is found in the corpse. Teddy, the protagonist zookeeper who has a soft spot for the anteater, was born to the local aristocracy of "Gunn Landing" in coastal California (based, I assume, on Moss Landing), but she has little money because her father is a crook and ran off, so, rather than live with her mother, she lives on a boat her father left behind, in company with other liveaboards. (As a former liveaboard, I appreciated this aspect of the story; more could have been done with this but the deaths take place at the zoo, and I also enjoyed the information about zookeeping and the various species.)
Profile Image for Amanda.
18 reviews5 followers
June 13, 2013
The plot of this book was engaging and clever. I did struggle a bit with many of the characters. They seemed flat, stereotypical, and unbelievable. I had to expend a little too much effort trying to sort through the tangled web of non-distinct characters...effort that I would have preferred to spend figuring out who the culprit was, or simply enjoying the story.

This book initially caught my attention because of the zoo setting. (I'm a zookeeper.) The author's grasp of daily behind-the-scenes zoo life is so-so. She does demonstrate understanding of some technicalities involved in zoo operations, which leads me to believe she has had some inside experience in the zoo world. However, she is way off-base with other technicalities, and doesn't seem to fully "get" animals, zookeepers, or the culture of working in a zoo. She can't be faulted for that though, since I presume she is not a zookeeper or otherwise intimately involved in zoo operations. Outsiders to the zoo world may enjoy this semi-accurate glimpse into zoo life, but I advise them to take this depiction with a grain of salt. Zoo folk might find themselves feeling a bit twitchy at some of the inaccuracies, but it shouldn't dissuade anyone from enjoying this story. (For zoo mysteries that more accurately portray daily zoo life, I recommend Ann Littlewood's trilogy.)

Overall an enjoyable read, and I anticipate I will read the two other titles in this trilogy.
Profile Image for Kit.
365 reviews12 followers
January 6, 2009
I read this book for the anteater. Lucy (the anteater) is awesome, definitely one of the best animal characters I've read where the author is trying to show a real animal's thoughts and actions rather than anthropomorphizing them. Teddy (the human protagonist) is at her best when she's talking about her job as a zookeeper and the various animals she works with.

I was not nearly as enthralled with the human cast of characters. Teddy has a controlling mother and various relatives and acquaintances in various stages of flakiness, but they don't have the charm of the characters in Janet Evanovich's novels, so I found myself wondering why Teddy put up with them (and inflicted them on me). Joe, the sheriff and Teddy's love interest, sounds like a great guy from the glimpses we get of him, but we see so little of their relationship that I can't figure out when or how Teddy got up the nerve to start dating him.

I'm hoping that the difficulties in fleshing out the characters will be fixed in later installments of this series, because I really want to read more about the zoo and its inhabitants.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,839 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2019
"For ex-heiress Teddy Bently, working at Gunn Zoo is civilized compared to growing up rich in nearby uber-scale Gunn Landing. And caring for the zoo's resident diva, pregnant anteater Lucy, is way easier for Teddy than dealing with her own fiercely snobbish mother and elusive embezzler father. Until a wealthy zoo benefactor turns up dead in Lucy's enclosure -- and blame unfairly falls on the ever-hungry anteater. The only way Teddy can clear her is to dive back into the Landing's social shark pool to help her handsome ex-boyfriend Sheriff Joe Rejas find the truth.

"But even Teddy isn't prepared for the financial double-dealing and marital triple-timing beneath the Gunn family's renowned animal foundation. And investigating her predatory zoo-director boss and eccentric coworkers uncovers even more nasty secrets -- and puts a target dead on Teddy's back. Now she'll have to act fast to trap a clever killer ... or end up extinct.
~~back cover

Sometimes I wonder about the folks who write these blurbs. Lucy wasn't accused of killing Greyson Harrill, Zorah, the head zookeeper, was. A minor point, I suppose, but still, accuracy is to be encouraged.

This book takes place in my home territory. Gunn Landing is a thinly disguised Moss Landing, halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey. The location isn't absolute to the plot, but it always gives me a warm feeling to read about the area. Other than that, this is an ordinary cozy mystery, with a soupcon of on-again-off-again-maybe romance thrown in for spiciness. Entertaining, but not captivating.
Profile Image for Jeannette.
978 reviews48 followers
January 22, 2020
Having come across this series accidentally while with some friends recently, I decided I had to read this based solely on the title. It was a good decision. Neither Teddy nor Joe seem to be the most thorough or efficient of detectives, but they're pleasant characters and you somehow end up rooting for them anyway. Since I couldn't exactly follow their process, and Webb doesn't leave a lot of clues for the reader to work with, it wasn't the sort of mystery I could solve on my own.

It did take an interesting journey not just through zookeeping, but through some interesting family dynamics, and a rather uncomfortable workplace harassment situation. I could have lived without that last one, but it was still a fun ride. The solution wasn't the most satisfying, but again, it was a fun read and I'd revisit this series for some good cozy mystery fun.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lacey.
346 reviews
March 20, 2017
Star rating: 2 Stars

After a prominent member of the Gunn Zoo's trust fund committee is found clawed up in the giant anteaters enclosure, blame falls squarely on Lucy the anteaters furry back. When it's concluded that a gun shot was what ultimately killed committee member Grayson, the head zookeeper Zorah is the first to fall under police scrutiny. Theodora 'Teddy' Bentley knows that her co-worker could never have harmed another human being, let alone kill one, so she sets out to find the real killer before her friend is put behind bars permanently.

While offering a unique setting for a cozy mystery series, this novel seriously lacks cohesion. The story is choppy and hard to read, with long periods of lackadaisical writing followed by quickly fleeting action sequences. Many of the action packed scenes felt forced. As if the writer couldn't think of what else to do to fill the pages, so she throws in some unnecessary action to keep the readers attention. In the end I just couldn't bring myself to truly enjoy this novel. It was too boring and too forced. I won't be picking up the next in this series anytime soon.
Profile Image for P.D. Workman.
Author 185 books458 followers
April 11, 2022
A very nicely-done cozy. I would definitely read more in the series. A cozy mystery with a zoo full of animals behaving like animals and humans behaving like savages. Plenty of suspects, lots of twists and turns, and pleasant diversions into zoo life, boats, and the protagonist's relationships with her family, coworkers, friends, and new love interest. The main character was more three-dimensional than the protagonists in a lot of other cozy mysteries. As an animal lover, I enjoyed reading about the social behaviors of the animals and how the keepers loved and cared for them.
Profile Image for  Olivermagnus.
1,870 reviews43 followers
October 11, 2017
This cozy mystery begins with Lucy the Giant Anteater from Belize narrating. She smells a human interloper in her pen at the Gunn Landing Zoo and discovers him covered with hundreds of delicious ants. The victim of the zoo turns out to be Grayson Harrill, an employee and husband of the wealthy Gunn family who sponsor the zoo. The narration is then picked up by Theodora “Teddy” Bentley, another zoo employee.

Teddy knows that Lucy didn't kill Grayson which immediately puts her on the opposite side of boss and most of the community. Eventually Teddy expands her investigation and ends up being shot at, slugged on the head in a swirling fog, and eventually becomes a suspect in another murder. She also ignores any advice of her over-protective mother, her fugitive father, and her ex-boyfriend who just happens to be the sheriff.

What a delightfully fresh and funny mystery this turned out to be. It's filled with humor and some real laugh at loud moments. The atmosphere of the zoo is very realistic. In addition to a well thought out mystery plot we also learn a lot about monkeys, wolves and giant anteaters, as well as individual animals like Makeba, a giraffe who gis expecting a baby; Cisco, the alpha male wolf; and Carlos, the magpie jay who wants Teddy for his avian mate. I absolutely loved it and plan on reading the rest of the series.
Profile Image for FangirlNation.
684 reviews133 followers
May 1, 2018
One night, in The Anteater of Death, Lucy, the pregnant giant anteater at the Gunn Zoo, finds one of those human things wriggling in her exhibit, infuriating her that he would dare to invade her home. By the time zookeeper Teddy Bentley, the daughter of an influential zoo board member, finds the body, Lucy, in her anger, has flayed the body of the skin on much of his body and face. But it doesn’t take long before Sheriff Joe Rejas, Teddy’s ex-boyfriend, realizes that the man was actually murdered by being shot.

Read the rest of this review and other fun, geeky articles at Fangirl Nation
Profile Image for Abibliofob.
1,068 reviews44 followers
December 30, 2019
Entertaining book about a zookeeper solving a murder. Well written and great depiction of life at a zoo and living on a boat. The characters surrounding is also good. I really enjoyed reading this first book in the series.
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
March 20, 2017
Cute cozy mystery set at the zoo...
After giving this book some more thought I dropped a star from my initial rating, simply because it is definitely not as good as most of the books I give four stars.... what I like most about the book was the setting, I like the zoo and I like central California, both are interesting places with a lot of character... where this book was lacking for me was the character development, I didn't necessarily find any of the characters all that likable or well-developed and they're just was a lot going on... I think in cozy mysteries simpler is better, and simple with fabulous characters is even better.... I will read the next book in the series, because there is always hope that the characters will be better developed, and as I said I really enjoyed the zoo setting and found it unique....
Profile Image for Sharon.
855 reviews5 followers
May 9, 2015
For some reason I didn't like this book as much as the third book in this series (which I read/listened to first). I often listen to audiobooks while exercising and like books that I look forward to listening to, and that make me want to get out the door, or take an extra long run. I did not have the "I can't wait to listen to more of this" with this book. I did listen to Llama of Death while doing housework, so there may be some situational bias in my feelings.

With regards to this book, I enjoyed hearing about the zoo animals for the most part even though I am a biologist and some of this information was not new to me. (I didn't know however, that zoo animals had to be anesthetized to be artificially inseminated - my brother does not have to put his farm animals out...). There is not much to the mystery in this book, but there is a fair amount of story surrounding Teddy and her life and problems. This may be useful for those who plan to read the rest of the series. I am not sure I will be one of them; I am more interested in the plot that some of the details of the characters.

Listening to a book is a different experience than reading and I was surprised to hear the word problematical used twice. I had to look it up, because it sounded to strange. So, from grammarist.com: "Problematic and problematical are different forms of the same word. Both mean (1) posing a problem, (2) open to debate, and (3) unsettled. Though they’re both listed in most dictionaries, problematic is more common in 21st-century edited writing. Problematical isn’t incorrect—and, in fact, it was the preferred form before the late 20th century–but it is an unnecessary variant." At least the author was consistent in using this form...

2.5 stars. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. Moving on to the next book.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,751 reviews
December 4, 2018
The book was good other than a few issues. There were many misspellings and grammatical errors. I also noted that there were things that zoos today cannot do for safety reasons.

A couple of years ago, I was walking through the stacks at the library and saw the title on this book and laughed. I borrowed it and loved the story. I then borrowed and read all the other books in the series. I borrowed this book again as a Kindle and as an audio through Overdrive. I did this so that I could get the girls interested in the series. We listened to the whole book on the way to Maryland to go to Antietam and we started another book from the series on the way home. My husband loved the story.

Teddy is a zookeeper taking care of the giant anteater, Lucy. A man is found dead in her cage and she is accused of killing him and the current director, an animal hater, orders her destroyed. After an autopsy, it is learned that the anteater is innocent of murdering the man. Teddy then works on getting her freed from her smaller cage so that when she has her baby it is less stressful and all goes well. There is so much information in the book about zoos and the animals and about anteaters. I really did enjoy this book the second time around.
5,607 reviews51 followers
January 10, 2009
Zookeeper Teddy Bentley must fight off efforts by her wealthy, much-married mother to get her off her low-status job and out of her shabby houseboat, and into the high society life her mother thinks is the only proper way to live. When Teddy finds a corpse in the cage of Lucy, a pregnant giant anteater, she must defend her beloved animals from the threat of a callous new zoo head, and her best friend, another zookeeper, from a murder accusation. Her romantic history with the now-widowed local sheriff--her mother didn't approve of their high school relationship and shipped Teddy off to a private school in Virginia--adds further complications, as does the sudden reappearance of her fugitive, embezzler father. Lots of zoo color, but this is the third series (this book seems like a series opener) currently running that features a fugitive parent or parents, and it's getting rather old as a plot device.
Profile Image for Marlyn.
203 reviews11 followers
June 19, 2009
This is the first in a new series with protagonist Theodora "Teddy" Bentley, an heiress who has decided to become a zookeeper. She works, despite her family's disapproval, at a small private zoo on the central coast of California. One morning, Lucy the anteater discovers a human corpse in her enclosure, and is blamed for the death of one of the zoo's largest benefactors. Teddy is certain that Lucy is innocent, and sets out to prove it. Her efforts are complicated by her mother's unsubtle efforts at matchmaking, the attempts of an upper-crust group to evict her from her shabby houseboat, and her ex-boyfriend Sheriff Joe Rejas, who thinks she's getting in the way of his investigation.
The unusual cast of supporting characters is somewhat reminiscent of Donna Andrews' Meg Lanslow books, where only Meg and her husband appear to be sane. I look forward to more in this series.
Profile Image for Juniper Shore.
Author 2 books1 follower
July 30, 2015
So, our heroine works at a zoo, and apparently derives all her insights into human behavior from observing the zoo animals. Webb is obviously trying to draw parallels between humans and animals, but it just doesn't work. Sure, there's a lot of infidelity and intrasex competition in humans, but it doesn't manifest the same way it does in Mexican wolves or bears. In fact, the major problem with The Anteater of Death is that it keeps trying to force square human characters into round zoological holes.

The plot is weak, Teddy's idea of detective work seems to revolve around randomly accusing people of random things and waiting to see how they'll react, the romance is hopelessly forced (see the paragraph above) and the chapters written from the perspective of the anteater are cringeworthy. The book isn't even funny or dramatic or terrifying. It's just dull.
Profile Image for Nathalie.
977 reviews9 followers
May 2, 2012
This is the first book in the series "A Gunn Zoo Mystery" by Betty Webb starring Teddy Bentley as a California zookeeper. Each mystery involves a zoo animal in its story, this time, it is a pregnant Giant Anteater from Belize which is Teddy's main charge. I started with the second book, so I got to know more about the characters like Teddy's millionaire felon father who was on the lam in the second book but comes back to the US in the first. I just really enjoyed learning more about the animals in general. I'm not fond of zoos but it is still fascinating to have a behind the scene look. The story is well paced and fun to read and the characters interesting. I just zipped right along with this book.
Profile Image for Marja McGraw.
Author 34 books34 followers
July 2, 2013
The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb is the unique and wonderful story of Lucy, the pregnant anteater who’s accused of killing a man found in her enclosure. Okay, it’s actually the humorous story of Teddy Bentley who works at the zoo against her socialite mother’s wishes.

Teddy feels she needs to solve the murder or Lucy will be transferred out of the zoo. When there’s another death, it becomes apparent that Lucy didn’t commit the crime, but no one will listen to Teddy.

The behind-the-scenes stories Ms. Webb shares are delightful and sometimes a little odd. I’ll be reading the rest of this series and I highly recommend The Anteater of Death to anyone who likes animals, mysteries, humor and heart. Oh, and you might find a little romance, too.

Profile Image for Hope.
814 reviews42 followers
November 12, 2017
I enjoyed this one. While the protagonist made some blindingly stupid decisions - all too typical in a cozy series - the writing about the animals more than made up for it. The author does a great job of getting inside an animal's head without anthropomorphism - and clearly gets that people are not all that much more complicated than other animals.

Unsurprisingly, I have a bit of a crush on the love interest :) If anything knocks me out of this series, it will be the protagonist making plot-driven-yet-stupid relationship decisions. She gets a pass for now, since this is just the first book in the series and I want to hear more about the zoo and all its denizens. Hopefully that won't happen in later installments :)
Profile Image for Phair.
2,054 reviews41 followers
December 31, 2015
Maybe 2.5 stars. Not sure if it was the reader's somewhat monotone delivery or the distractions of the holidays but this was not terribly involving. There was much more of the characters' personal lives and zoo doings than actual sleuthing. So, as a mystery it was just so-so. Teddy falls into that type of mystery protagonist that I can't stand- someone who takes really stupid risks. That said, I did not guess who dunit before the reveal (maybe I just didn't care enough to try figuring it out?) and I did find the information on the behaviors of the various zoo animals fascinating. I might consider reading another in this series but certainly won't rush out to do it soon.
Profile Image for Brenda.
1,465 reviews16 followers
February 13, 2016
This was a fun mystery. I can not wait to share it with some of my library friends. There was enough adventure to hold my attention and yet it did not overwhelm the story. I liked that most of the story was set in a zoo. I thought I had pegged the murderer, but found out I was wrong. I missed one of the clues the author had given the reader. When I am in need of some "brain candy" I will seek out this author again in the future.
Profile Image for Amy Gay.
162 reviews
January 11, 2021
I really liked the murder mystery side of this book, especially since it did take me until the end to figure out who the murderer was, rather than making it obvious early on. The constant repetition of personal life inner dialogue took away from the story though. I get having the side story of a personal life, especially in a nursery mystery, but it felt like it was just the same lines written over and over and could have been trimmed some.
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