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The Clockwork Teddy: A Bear Collector's Mystery by John J. Lamb
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425224298
Date: 07 October 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Brad Lyon and his wife Ashleigh have returned to San Francisco. The trip is one of mixed feelings. On the one hand, they get to visit with their daughter, who's a police officer, and with old friends and coworkers. On the other hand, Brad will be finishing up some of the loose ends from the shooting that ended his career in the force. It's also a chance for Brad and Ashleigh to show their bears at the Teddy Bear Flag Republic. But that was before Brad witnessed a robbery of a teddy bear artist at the bear show. Then on a ride-along with his old partner, Gregg, Brad spots a clue that relates to his knowledge of teddy bears that changes the assumptions made of a homicide in a fleabag motel to one where there may be lots of money involved. So, now our bear-making couple is again consulting on a murder case.

More John J. Lamb:
The Mournful Teddy
The False-Hearted Teddy
The Crafty Teddy

Brad and Ashleigh Lyon are wonderful characters. They play off each other just as you'd expect a happily married couple with grown children to be. How she puts up with the puns, I don't know. What I do know is that over the series the characters have changed and grown as a result of their adventures. Brad has come to terms with his disability, but that doesn't mean he likes being limited in his range of actions. He's joined Ashleigh in making bears. Together they are an investigative team you don't want to cross. While Brad is now retired, Ashleigh is taking training and working with the local police department in their new hometown.

Every mystery has been different and the main characters get involved logically due to their training, background, and proximity to the crime. Some amateur sleuths seem to fall over bodies every few weeks in a town with barely population enough to support a main street. Here, the nature of the bear shows allows Brad and Ashleigh to travel to various places to display their bears and be on hand for the crime that is sure to beguile them into helping out.

In The Clockwork Teddy, it's because of Brad's knowledge of teddy bears and toys and the bear-making community that he becomes involved in the murder. Without his information about the importance of the high-tech bear found near the scene, the police might not have searched in the right direction early enough in the case to find the killer before the trail got cold. Even so, there's some amazing twists and turns that keep the reader guessing almost to the end.

The book may center around teddy bears but that doesn't mean you don't get adventure, suspense, and a convoluted mystery to keep you turning the pages. If you haven't read any of the Bear Collector's mysteries give them a try.

Each mystery ends with a short profile of a teddy bear artist, in this book it's Penny French.

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