Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Mournful Teddy (A Bear Collector's Mystery) by John J. Lamb

A cozy mystery about teddy bears? Really? People will write about anything. And more importantly, people will BUY anything!

I fully admit, this was my first thought when I picked up the new Bear Collector's Mystery series. I had seen Lamb at a book signing two years ago but hadn't gotten his book at the time. It looked cute - come on, it's about teddy bear collecting. What other word would you use to describe the series?

Instead, my mom bought it later and sent me the first three books in the series. The one thing that had made me curious when I first saw him was the mere presences of a male author. Cozy mysteries are notoriously written by women, the sleuths are women, and the majority of the characters are often women (think Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. It is the epitome of cozies if you've never read one).

To my great and pleasant surprise, this book is really quite good. It is 100% cozy - no gruesome death scenes, no gory details, cute theme. But, Lamb's background created a more detailed story. The main character, like the author, is an ex-cop who has full knowledge of police procedure and insight into the criminal mind. Lamb has managed to combine a police procedural which gives technical credence to his book with the fluffiness (pun intended) of a good cozy mystery. Plus, Lamb has a witty sense of humor that is slightly off-color. He isn't afraid to be a guy, which is a nice twist in a genre that often describes men as either bohunks to be drooled over or clueless, tasteless duds to be divorced.

In addition, Lamb and his wife are teddy bear collectors. So, on top of the accuracy of the criminal side of the novel, Lamb does include all of the necessary fact building about a particular niche/hobby that has become de rigeur in the cozy mystery world. Rather than wrinkling my nose at the other two Lamb books on my shelf, I will happily pick them up to read in the next couple of months.

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