Betty Webb
The Gunn Zoo Mysteries and the Lena Jones series

The Anteater of Death,
the first Gunn Zoo mystery


In this first of Betty Webb's Gunn Zoo mysteries, an innocent giant aneater from Belieze is suspected of murder. But she didn't do it! Zoo keeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley is determined to find the real murderer before her furry friend is shipped off to another zoo in discgrace. Then another human bites the dust, the monkeys riot, and the wolves go nuts. Things get worse when the snooty residents of 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 who loathes Teddy's dangerous jobs, starts interoducing 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 live, animal lore, and the leady ups and downs of Central Coast California houseboat living create a thrilling backdrop to murder.

"High Socity meets Zoo Quest." Rhys Bowen, author of the award-winning Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness Mysteries.

"A warm and unconventional heroine, zookeeper Theodora Bentley deftly weaves zoological lore into the fast-moving plot." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

The first Gunn Zoo mystery

Coming in August, 2010!

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Betty's Blog

The Online Anteater
Fun Facts About Giant Anteaters

The American Zoo and Aquarium Association
All you need to know about accredited American animal parks; great links, too.

The Phoenix Zoo
Where Betty Volunteers

San Diego Zoo
One of the world's great zoos

The National Zoo, Washington D.C.
A large collection of animals and wonderful online educational material

The St. Louis Zoo
Simply beautiful

The Lena Jones mysteries
The BIG web site, with detailed bio, interviews, and a detailed plot synopsis of each Lena Jones mystery.

Authors Guild


Betty with friend

The Gunn Zoo mysteries

Release date January 6, 2013

The critics are raving about THE LLAMA OF DEATH.
LIBRARY JOURNAL writes: "Zookeeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley works her shifts at the local Renaissance Faire, but her heart isn't in it, especially since her fiance', Sheriff Jo Rejas, is out of town. The only pleasure she gets is seeing how children lovingly interact with her charge, llama Alejandro. Then, shockingly, Henry the Eighth (Victor Emerson, proprietor of the local wedding chapel) is found dead by crossbow in the llama's pen. Law enforcement makes a mess of the investigation by arresting Teddy's mom. Soon Teddy discovers that Victor was no reverend; rather, he was an escaped convict with plenty of enemies... VERDICT: Webb's third zoo mystery winningly melds a strong animal story with an engaging cozy amateur sleuth tale. Set at a relaxed pace with abundant zoo filler, the title never strays into too-cute territory, instead presenting the real deal."

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY writes: "Zookeeper Theodora 'Teddy' Bentley's human relationships prove more taxing than her animal ones in Webb's amusing third Gunn Zoo mystery... Animal lore and human foibles spiced with a hint of evil test Teddy's patience and crime solving in this appealing cozy."

Release date: August 15, 2010

The Koala of Death
The second Gunn Zoo Mystery


When zoo keeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley fishes the body of Koala Kate out of Gunn Landing Harbor, she discovers that her fellow zoo keeper didn't drown; she was strangled. The clues to Kate's kill implicate other keepers at the Gunn Zoo, including Outback Bill, Kate's Aussie boyfriend; and Robin Chase, the big cat keeper who's got it in for Teddy. Also displaying suspicious behavior are several "liveaboarders" at the harbor; Speaks-To-Souls, a shady animal psychic; and even Caro, Teddy's much-married, ex-beauty queen mother. But murderers aren't all Teddy has to worry about. Her embezzling father is still on the run from the Feds, and the motor on the Merilee, her beloved houseboat, is failing. To pay for repairs, Teddy agrees to host a weekly live television show featuring misbehaving animals that range from Wanchu, a cuddly koala, to Abim, a panicky wallaby -- and all hell breaks loose in the TV studio. To add to Teddy's woes, the killer zeroes in on her with near-fatal results. THE KOALA OF DEATH features all the social-climbing humans and eccentric animals that made the prize-winning THE ANTEATER OF DEATH so popular. Readers will enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at zoo life, and learn that poor little rich girls like Teddy lead much more compolicated lives than they'd ever imagine -- especially when they're tracking killers.

"Webb warmly evolkes the unconventional worlds of zoo and marina. Readers don't even have to be animal lovers to enjoy watching, say, a pushy television host get her comeuppance from a mischievous lemus." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"The body of one zookepper provides a workout for the brain of another. Teddy's second case showcases an engaging array of quirky characters, human and animal." KIRKUS.

"Teddy's second adventure will appeal to animal lovesr who enjoy a bit of social satire with their mystery." BOOKLIST

"The author of the edgy Lena Jones mysteries softens her touch in this second zoo mystery (after THE ANTEATER OF DEATH) featuring an amateur sleuth with a wealthy background and a great deal of zoological knowledge and brain power. From mucking out the cages to carrying a lemur with a loose sphincter onto a TV set, Teddy's advetures will appeal to fans of animal-themed cozies." LIBRARY JOURNAL


The Anteater of Death

In The Anteater of Death, an innocent anteater gets framed for murder.

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 in disgrace to another zoo.

Then another human bites the dust, the monkeys riot, and the Mexican gray wolves go nuts. Things get even worse when the snooty folks at Gunn Landing Harbor attempt to evict Teddy from the Merilee, her beloved houseboat. And that's just the beginning of Teddy's woes. Her father, on the lam for embezzling millions, gets targeted by a local gangster; 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.

Behind-the-scenes zoo life, animal lore, and the leaky ups and downs of Central Coast California houseboat living create a thrilling backdrop for murder -- and yes, a little romance.

The Anteater of Death is a surprising and warm-hearted series debut for Betty Webb, best known for her dark, best-selling Lena Jones series (Desert Noir, Desert Wives, Desert Shadows, Desert Run, and Desert Cut. But Lena Jones fans needn't despair. Desert Lost, the new Lena Jones mystery, was in December 2009. In the meantime, cozy up to The Anteater of Death and learn that even the grimmest of mystery writers has a lighter side. And stay tuned for THE KOALA OF DEATH, which debuts in August, 2010! If you thought Lucy the Anteater was great, wait'll you get a look at Wanchu the Koala!

"I've been impressed with Betty Webb's edgy mysteries about the Southwest, so I was surprised to find she has a softer side and a wicked sense of humor in a book that can only be described as High Society meets Zoo Quest. I've always been a sucker for zoos, so I also relished the animal details in this highly enjoyable read."
Rhys Bowen, the award-winning author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries.

Giant Anteaters, Reid Park Zoo, Tucson

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Selected Works

A Lena Jones mystery
Polygamy comes to Scottsdale
Publishers Weekly has called the Lena Jones novels "Mysteries with a social conscience." Find out why by browsing the exciting titles below.
While scouting locations for a film documentary on Arizona's Apache Wars, P.I. Lena Jones and Oscar-winning director Warren Quinn discover the body of a young girl. The gruesome manner of the child's death evokes memories of Lena's own rough childhood. In Desert Cut, the still-vivid memory of Geronimo's war mixes with the modern immigration war; the hard life on the Arizona-Mexico border contrasts with Hollywood's slick production meetings; and the cruelty of an ancient practice is tempered by a growing underground railroad fighting to save its young victims. "A compelling story that will appeal to a broad range of mystery readers." Booklist starred review."Webb's dark tale of a clash of cultures is emotionally draining and intellecturally challenging." Kirkus Reviews.
In Desert Wives: Polygamy Can Be Murder, private investigator Lena Jones helps a young girl escape from a forced marriage to an elderly polygamy "prophet," a man who already has numerous wives. In doing so, Lena uncovers even more crimes against women, including rampant incest, and the welfare scams that keep the polygamy compounds afloat and make multi-millionaires out of their self-appointed prophets. "Eye-popping!" The New York Times
Desert Run is based on the true-life escape of 25 German U-Boat crewmen who fled Arizona's famed Camp Papago, a World War II prisoner of war camp. This cold case file leaves Lena Jones wondering why the U.S. neglects its own veterans' rights while guarding the rights of others. The murder -- and civil rights abuses -- never stop in this exciting book. "Multi-layered, thought-provoking, a gem." Denver Post
Desert Shadows asks two questions: how far should freedom of speech go when it conflicts with victims' rights, and how far will a publisher go to hit the Best Seller list? Lena Jones discovers the answers when she investigates the case of a publisher who might have been killed by one of her own contracted writers -- a cold-hearted serial killer who penned his autobiography while on Death Row. "Loyalty, compassion and a sharp sense of humor... The glorious Southwest landscape again provides the perfect setting for Webb's courageous heroine." Publishers Weekly.
In Desert Noir, the first Lena Jones mystery, the Arizona P.I. investigates the murder of her best friend, a Scottsdale art gallery owner, only to discover that Clarice Hyath wasn't really her best friend after all. Themes in this rousing mystery include a peek behind the not-so-refined art world, the abuse of eminent domaine by replacing low-cost housing with millionaires' high-rises, and the rampant destruction of the Southwestern desert. "An elegy for the lost West, strong on atmosphere and insight." Booklist.