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Night Kill by Ann Littlewood
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Night Kill (edition 2010)

by Ann Littlewood

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35None318,759 (3.54)3
Member:daverollins
Title:Night Kill
Authors:Ann Littlewood
Info:Poisoned Pen Press (2010), Paperback, 250 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:crime, mystery

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Night Kill by Ann Littlewood

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Night Kill isn't great literature. But, oh the fun of reading a mystery set in a Pacific Northwest zoo! The author has worked as a zookeeper in our local zoo for years, and her knowledge is apparent. The setting, animals, zoo crew drama, and daily zoo activities were very real. The mystery plot and characterizations were just okay. But the setting more than makes up for it.

This is the first in a series of three. ( )
  SugarCreekRanch | Nov 17, 2012 |
First Line: Hot breath from the lioness touched my cheek.

Iris Oakley loves her job as a feline keeper at the Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington. What she doesn't love is the amount of alcohol her husband Rick is lapping up every night. After a short separation, the two are reconciled, and Rick swears off the sauce. However, the next morning his dead (and dead drunk) body is found in the lion enclosure. Once Iris sorts through some of her initial grief, she begins to deal with no longer being with the big cats and being trained as a bird keeper-- and the feeling that her husband's death was no accident.

When this book concentrates on animal behavior, the day-to-day running of a small zoo, and the training of the keepers, it is first rate. It is obvious that Littlewood, a former zoo keeper, knows her stuff. A scene in which Iris is attacked by a big cat is scary and riveting.

Unfortunately I never felt connected to any of the characters-- including Iris-- and parts of the plot were too easily deduced. Littlewood's second book in the series, Did Not Survive, is available, and I would be interested to see if the characterization and plot in it can rise to match the author's background knowledge. I'd love to see more writing that matches that big cat attack! ( )
  cathyskye | Nov 6, 2010 |
Well written story taking place in a zoo. Sometimes the main character is more obtuse than the reader, but the the emotions explored are spot on. Very believable story. ( )
  anfirind | Apr 14, 2009 |
Much to her parents’ chagrin, 24-year-old Iris Oakley has found a career as a zookeeper rather than finishing college and getting a “real” job. But Iris loves her work with the big cats at the Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver WA. She and her husband Rick Douglas are taking about getting back together after a short separation and he’s promised to stay on the wagon. Things are looking up.

The morning after their romantic reunion, Rick’s body is found, mauled by one of Iris’s cats – and he has a high blood-alcohol count. Disappointed in Rick’s relapse and grieving his loss, she has some unanswered questions. Why would Rick have been at the zoo in the middle of the night? Why was his system loaded with scotch, not his usual beer?

Zoo officials believe it’s best to remove the grieving keeper from working with the lion that killed her husband, they assign her to work with birds – and in that department, she’s the very junior keeper working under a dour boss. Ugh! In between playing chef for a bunch of penguins, Iris snoops around, asking questions of her colleagues. Eventually Iris rattles someone who apparently has something to hide and wants Iris out of the picture for good.

Although I enjoyed Night Kill well enough, I thought the author included way too much information on the zoo animals – all kinds of them – and the inner workings of various departments at Finley. (Animal lovers may find that a plus.) Ms. Littlewood did, however, make do with a small, very tidy cast of characters – something of which I always approve. And she created a delightful character in Iris – not a typical amateur sleuth. Iris is a little rough around the edges, lives in a less-than-cozy environment and doesn’t have the typical romantic entanglements that so many amateur sleuths get bogged down in.

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, Dec ’08 - Jan ’09 issue. ( )
  NewsieQ | Mar 27, 2009 |
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Iris Oakley, a young zookeeper at the Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington, hopes to reconcile with her newly sober husband, Rick. But when he is found dead (and dead drunk) in the lion exhibit, a paralyzing mix of grief and anger at his betrayal keeps Iris from questioning the assumptions around his death. But Iris' friends motivate her to prove that her husband could not have died the way it appears. Soon, however, these same friends impede her progress as she follows ambiguous clues and sorts through unlikely motives. Meanwhile, Iris must adjust to losing her beloved job as feline keeper and instead learn to be a bird keeper. The zoo's veterinarian respects her skills, but the foreman would far rather she get a job elsewhere, and the senior bird keeper seems to agree. After Iris survives a series of new-fatal "accidents," she begins to understand what really happened to Rick. But Iris must survive to prove it. (from product description)… (more)

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