Read The Crafty Teddy Online

Authors: John J. Lamb

Tags: #Mystery

The Crafty Teddy

Praise for the Bear Collector’s Mysteries

The False-Hearted Teddy

“With a quick-moving plot that’s neither too cozy nor too hard-boiled, a likable sleuth, and an original premise, Lamb has another honey of a mystery.”


Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A fast-paced trip…Mystery fans will follow the twists and turns of this tightly woven tale with pleasure.”


Teddy Bear and Friends Magazine

“A fast and fun romp into murder and mayhem…An enjoyable read.”


Armchair Interviews

“Both story and dialogue are fast-paced…I finished
The False-Hearted Teddy
in one lazy afternoon because I couldn’t put it down.”


Cozy Library

The Mournful Teddy

“Once you start, you can’t bear to miss a teddy mystery.”

—Rita Mae Brown,
New York Times
bestselling author of
the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries

“A smart debut.”


Mystery Scene

“A fascinating look at teddy bears…[Lamb] provides readers with a delightful whodunit that more than just bear collectors will enjoy.”


Midwest Book Review

“An exceptional mystery…Skillfully blends elements of the traditional cozy with the gritty instincts of a tough but tender ex-homicide detective…
The Mournful Teddy
is one teddy bear you won’t take for granted.”

—Ellen Byerrum, author of
the Crime of Fashion Mysteries


The Mournful Teddy
is a cozy police procedural, an unusual but not unheard-of combination. The author has pulled it off well—and with subtle humor…[it’s] more than satisfying…I look forward to many more in the series.”


Mystery News

“Entertaining…a fun romp…Fans will need to bear patiently the wait for the Lyons’ next outing.”


Richmond Times-Dispatch


The Mournful Teddy
is a fur ball of fun. There’ll be no hibernating once you start reading it.”


Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News

“The unique mystery surrounding collectible teddy bears provides this cozy an element of fun that is hard to find.”


The Romance Readers Connection

“True to his roots as an investigator, Lamb masterfully weaves reality with fiction in
The Mournful Teddy.”


The Massanutten (VA) Villager

“A wonderful entry in this new cozy series.”


Reviewing the Evidence

Berkley Prime Crime Mysteries by John J. Lamb

THE MOURNFUL TEDDY

THE FALSE-HEARTED TEDDY

THE CRAFTY TEDDY

The Crafty Teddy

John J. Lamb

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

THE CRAFTY TEDDY

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2007 by John J. Lamb.
The Edgar
®
name is a registered service mark of the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 1-4295-8785-7

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

For my beloved wife, Joyce,
who showed me a previously unsuspected universe of
love, joy, and teddy bears

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

A Teddy Bear Artisan Profile

Afterword

One

I awakened to Kitchener, our Old English sheepdog, growling quietly as he lay on the floor by my side of the bed. Although he weighs in at over a hundred pounds and is named after a famous British army field marshal, our dog is an utter coward. Ironically, one of the things he’s most afraid of is sheep, the very creatures he was bred to herd. He’s also prone to nightmares, so at first I thought he was having a bad dream about commando sheep, rappelling on ropes from the roof and through our open bedroom windows, intent on
baa
-baric acts. Kitch has an overactive imagination.

The growling stopped and I listened. It was a warm and still May night and the only sounds were the murmuring waters of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, which runs in front of our house, and the desultory chirps of a couple of crickets. Then Kitch growled again. I leaned over to wake him up and froze. I heard soft footfalls outside on the gravel walkway leading to our front door downstairs. My first inclination was to dismiss the noise as an animal: a clumsy deer headed for the midnight buffet in our flower garden, or perhaps even a big raccoon. However, I had to abandon that comforting theory when someone—definitely human and wearing shoes—began slowly creeping across our wooden porch.

Now it was my turn to feel a nasty little rush of fear, because I knew the front door was unlocked. People are friendly here in our country town of Remmelkemp Mill, Virginia, but they don’t come to visit in the middle of the night. I listened intently, but the only sound now was the gentle breathing of Ashleigh, my wife, asleep beside me. Then I heard the squeak of the downstairs screen door being slowly opened.

I glanced at the LCD display of the alarm clock on Ash’s nightstand. The orange numerals read 2:45
A.M.
It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious, or I’d have viewed the time as an evil omen: Section 245 of the California Penal Code is the definition for Assault with a Deadly Weapon, a tidbit of information that comes from my quarter century as a San Francisco cop, the final fourteen years as an inspector in the Robbery Homicide Division. That was before I received a crippling gunshot wound to my left shin and was medically retired from the force.

I’m not as old as I look. Really. The stress of getting shot and suddenly losing my very satisfying career in police work has savagely aged me. In fact, I think I look old enough to have voted for Nixon—when he ran against JFK in 1960. But even though my hair is the same shade of gray as the USS
Missouri
, the networks of creases on the sides of my eyes look like relief maps of the Ganges River delta, and I stump around with a blackthorn cane, I won’t be forty-eight until July.

The only positive thing I can say about my physical appearance is that I weigh about fifteen pounds less than I did a couple of months ago. It was either drop some tonnage to reduce the pressure on the titanium hardware the doctors had used to rebuild my left shin or go shopping for one of those little electric carts for old folks that they advertise on daytime TV. The idea of accompanying a gorgeous woman like Ash out in public while riding in one of those powered go-carts was too disturbing for words, since strangers already automatically assume she’s my trophy wife. So, I began to eat less and exercise more and the pounds just melted away. And if you believe that, I’ve got some Pan American Airways stock for sale, cheap.

Much as I wanted to leap into action like Errol Flynn, I had to proceed cautiously. There was something about lying in bed that often put my injured left leg to sleep. Slowly rolling myself into a sitting position, I flexed the muscles in my calf and gingerly rotated my ankle until the pins and needles began to go away. I got up from the bed and grabbed Kitch’s nylon collar, because I didn’t want to trip over him in the dark.

Although I was trying to be quiet, Ash woke, sat up, and brushed some strands of golden hair from her eyes. In spite of the impeding emergency, I paused for a second to admire her in the dim orange glow of the alarm clock’s numerals. Ash has Delft China blue eyes, a sweet heart-shaped face, and a firm hourglass figure that never fails to command my complete attention. Tonight she was wearing a lilac-colored sheer nightgown inset with lace. If there hadn’t been a burglar downstairs, I would have crawled right back into bed with her.

She sleepily asked, “What is it, honey?”

“Don’t turn on the light. We’ve got a possible four-five-nine in progress downstairs,” I whispered, using the California Penal Code section for a burglary.

“What?” Ash was instantly awake.

Doing my best to creep around the bed on my bum leg, I found her hand in the dark and guided it to the dog collar. “Call nine-one-one and hang on to Kitch.”

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