Theodora “Teddy” Esmeralda Iona Bentley is a zookeeper with the Gunn Zoo in California. During a routine workday, her boss informs her that she will be flown to Iceland in order to pick up an orphaned baby polar bear, two injured puffins, and two Icelandic foxes.
Sounds easy, right? Explore a beautiful country with a wealth of animals while waiting for Iceland officials to finish up the paperwork needed to ship animals overseas.
While horseback riding along the coast, Teddy and her guide, Bryndis, stumble upon a dead man in the middle of a field of nesting puffins. She recognizes him as a fellow American who caused several disturbances in town (most likely while drunk off his butt) and soon learns he’s visiting Iceland with his suspicious birdwatching group.
Teddy wipes her hands of the affair…until Bryndis pleads with her to solve the case. The police have arrested her boyfriend, a flirty local artist, as the possible murderer. But Bryndis isn’t the only one asking for help. With the police warning her to stay clear, Teddy must work carefully. A murderer is close by and, if she’s not careful, Teddy might be the next victim.
The Puffin of Death is fast-paced and constantly keeps you on your toes – a mixture of history, geography, suspense, cute animals, and, of course, murder. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t put it down. There were a few repetitions (sentences used multiple times, word for word), but the overall writing was very well done.
The mystery itself was great. The author introduced many suspects, each of them suspicious in their own way, and then twisted the facts just enough to throw doubt on their motives. Unlike other murder mysteries, the police weren’t breathing down the protagonist’s neck and generally causing havoc by refusing to listen to reason. I actually liked the investigator in charge.
There’s little romance in this book. It focuses solely on solving a man’s murder, a man who was greatly liked and respected by some and downright loathed by others. I liked this aspect because many books add complicated love affairs for extra drama that really have nothing to do with the story.
I liked Teddy as a protagonist. She’s strong and determined, but not afraid to express her fears and concerns. I respected the fact that she stayed loyal to her fiance back home, even though Bryndis encouraged her to partake in some harmless flirting with the local men. She never backed down and responded to criticism with witty sarcasm.
Plus there’s a cute baby polar bear! And puffins!