Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: The Crafty Teddy by John J. Lamb (Bear Collector's Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, story, and humor
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Another great story
Filled with characters you love
Book you can't put down




Don't Miss This Crafty Mystery

Early retirement agrees with Brad Lyon. After being shot in the line of duty, Brad and his wife Ashleigh moved from San Francisco to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and indulged in their hobby - teddy bears. But life in a small town isn't always quiet. And teddy bears aren't always an innocent hobby. After all, The Crafty Teddy is the third book in the series. And Brad again finds himself relying on his past to get him through another strange case.

When Brad wakes up in the middle of the night to hear someone downstairs, he's not happy. Going downstairs to investigate, he finds that someone has stolen the Farnell Alpha bear from their collection. This isn't just any teddy bear, but the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh and is very valuable.

Despite hard work from the local police, no clues turn up. The police have pretty much given up on ever recovering the bear when Brad spots some Japanese gangsters in the area asking for directions to the local museum. Since even the locals don't visit the museum, Brad smells something funny. Stopping by an hour later, he discovers the museum director dead. But when Ashleigh spots some counterfeit teddies on display, his curiosity is really aroused. What is happening in their little town?

This series has quickly shot to the top of my favorites list, and this is a perfect example as to why. The story combines elements of the police procedural genre with the cozy genre for a fun new mix. This means that we spend more time at the scene of the crime gathering clues then normal in the books I read. Yet the story moves swiftly from one suspect and red herring to another, sprinkling in clues as it goes along.

And I absolutely love the characters. Brad's humor always makes me laugh, and I love his relationship with Ashleigh. These two are obviously very much in love, yet their interactions never really boarder on the sickeningly sweet. Since the book is set around their home, we get to see the charming characters that were introduced in the first book in the series, and I loved seeing Tina and Sergei again. The book is filled with suspects who are well developed as well.

My only complaint about the series has been the first chapters. In the first two books, the first chapter was slow and dry, but here it is entertaining, giving us the introductions we need without stopping the story. The writing is crisp and flows well, making for a book that is finished all too soon.

The Crafty Teddy is another delightful entry in a fun series. I can't wait to visit the Lyons again soon.

And if you want to visit the Lyons again, too, here are the Bear Collector's Mysteries in order.

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