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The Sloth’s Eye- Book Review

May 15, 2011
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The Sloth’s Eye
Linda Lombardi
Gale Cengage Learning
$25.00 May 2011 292 pages

It’s a mystery set at a zoo! What’s not to love? Hannah is a zookeeper, working with the small animals at a busy urban zoo. Almost immediately, we get to know her routines, and some facts about the animals she works with, as well as her eccentric human colleagues. Gruff Caleb, gossipy Margo, and Chris, the handsome blue-eyed zookeeper who turns Hannah’s “insides into armadillo gruel.” The mystery itself is decent, and gets rolling almost immediately.

But the most fun about this story is the behind-the-scenes routines of the zoo, and the animal descriptions. From the elephants stomping pumpkins in a zoo publicity Halloween event, to Hannah’s wry descriptions of the enclosure-cleaning and animal-feeding that she’s always behind on, the routines of the zoo are fascinating and informative. Descriptions of the sloths as slightly alien-looking but calm creatures, and the almost-cuddly looking sleepy wombat show both Hannah’s love for animals, and Linda Lombardi’s own.

One of Lombardi’s other projects is her blog- Animals Behaving Badly. Lombardi collects news and videos about animal mischief and mayhem. Everything from peace-disturbing pooches to potentially evil armadillos.

She brings that same exuberant love for animals to her first mystery novel. Zookeepers work together, navigating whatever bureaucracy or interpersonal politics they might have, because the safety and respect for the animals in their care comes first. Showing her characters’ love for the capybaras and wombats and chinchillas in their care, it’s easy to see Lombardi’s own enthusiasm. Combined with snappy dialogue, it lightens the tone of the mystery itself, making it more of a fun romp than a suspenseful thrill ride. By the end of this, you’ll be hoping she’s going to write more about Hannah and her fellow zookeepers. And maybe you’ll be planning a trip to a zoo near you.


For every book I read in 2011, I’m donating $1 to the New York Public Library.

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