Zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley takes Alejandro, the Gunn Zoo llama, to a Monterey Bay-area Renaissance Faire only to discover the still-warm body of the Reverend Victor Emerson, owner of the local wedding chapel, dressed in his royal robes as Henry the Eighth. At first it appears as if Aljandro stomped the man to death, but a closer look reveals a crossbow dart in the man’s back.
Teddy’s investigation proves the “reverend” isn’t really a reverend at all — he’s an escaped convict, and every marriage he’s performed in the past twenty years is null and void. Teddy’s mother Caro, a spoiled ex-beauty queen, becomes the chief suspect and is immediately jailed when she causes a riot in the courtroom.The ”reverend” had twice married Caro to wealthy men, and when both marriages failed, Caro received large financial settlements. Now she may have to give all that money back, certainly a good enough reason to commit murder. But Caro wasn’t the only person gunning for Victor.
The child of the man Victor once murdered may have wanted to kill him, too, and at one point, even Teddy herself if handcuffed and jailed. Even worse, Teddy’s embezzling father flies in from exile in Costa Rica to help spring Caro from jail, thus putting his own freedom in jeapoardy. As Teddy continues her investigation, she finds herself up to her ears in girl gang members, squabbling boat liveaboarders, Renaissance Faire actors and stuntmen, and assorted animals. Written with a humorous touch, “The Llama of Death” portrays Renaissance Faire life, and gives the reader a rare behind-the-scenes look at modern zoos.
Betty Webb is the author of the acclaimed Lena Jones mystery series, which includes “Desert Cut” and “Desert Wives.” A former Californian who once lived on a boat, like the zookeeper protagonist of “The Anteater of Death,” Betty now lives in landlocked Arizona, where she volunteers at the Phoenix Zoo. She also teaches Creative Writing at Phoenix College and is a member of the National Association of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild. Visit her online at bettywebb-mystery.com