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By John J. Lamb

Berkeley Prime Crime, 2008 ($6.99)
ISBN-10: 0425224295
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-22429-8

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Former San Francisco homicide detective Brad Lyon took medical retirement after a bullet shattered his shin, and he and his wife Ashleigh moved back to her hometown in Virginia, happily leaving city life behind. Brad took up Ashleigh’s hobby/business of collecting and making teddy bears. He tells people that he "moved from grisly crime scenes to grizzly bears made out of mohair." Be warned, there are plenty of bear puns throughout the book, and also some interesting details about the business of bears.

They return to San Francisco to participate in the Teddy Bear Flag Republic festival, which is being held at the same time as a trial Brad is testifying in. Brad’s partner shot and killed the man who wounded him, and the thug’s family is suing him for wrongful death. The Lyons will also get to visit with their daughter Heather, who has followed in Dad’s footsteps and is on the police force.

At the festival, Brad is nearby when an acquaintance, Lauren Vandenbosch, is mugged by a grumpy guy in a bear suit. He stays to tell the police what he witnessed, and is dismayed to encounter an old enemy, a man he served with on the force who is now a private investigator. "Merv the Perv" Bronsey has been hired by a company Lauren’s son worked for, claiming the young man has stolen company secrets. A prototype of a "super teddy" has disappeared, as has Kyle Vandenbosch. Lauren swears her son is innocent, and Brad believes her.

He meets up with some of his friends from the old days, and when they find the super teddy at a grizzly -- er, I mean grisly -- crime scene, he gets hired to help in the investigation as a "teddy bear consultant."

This is the fourth in the Bear Collector’s Mystery series, and it is an interesting mix of cozy humor and police procedural. Fans of the series and new readers will enjoy it.

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