The Koala Of Death
Poisoned Pen, Aug 1 2010, $24.95
On the Central California coast, from her houseboat the Merilee, Gunn zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley goes to feed Maureen the Otter only to find the body of the new Gunn Zoo Koala keeper Kate “Koala Kate” Nido floating in the Gunn Landing Harbor. However, she is stunned to realize her peer was strangled to death. Her boyfriend San Sebastian Sheriff Joe Rejas asks her questions and pleads with Teddy to stay out of the investigation. She cannot though she knows she should heed his advice. Everything points to other Gunn Zoo employees like her former boyfriend Outback Bill the marsupial keeper and Robin Chase the big cat keeper. Teddy also finds “liveboarders”, an animal psychic and her serial married mom acting weird, which says a lot as this is an eccentric crew.
Her embezzling father remains on the lam from law enforcement. Finally with her motor to her houseboat needing repair, Teddy appears on a weekly live television show focusing on misbehaving animals such as Wanchu the koala and Abim the wallaby. All hell breaks loose on the set, on the Merilee and at the zoo compounded by a killer targeting Teddy.
Once again as with The Anteater of Death, the animals at the zoo and in the harbor in many ways mirror the zany idiosyncrasies of people. That underlying philosophy makes this amateur sleuth a terrific thriller as Joe tries to get Teddy to stay out of the inquiry as he assumes she is a former wealthy spoiled peacock used to getting her way until he realizes how wrong his assessment is as he knows they are penguins. This is a winner unless you are the person cleaning the animal habitats.