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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
Someone is murdering the pub landlords of Norfolk! Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to find the ‘real’ England. Instead of rural peace, bucolic beauty, and delightfully quaint characters straight out of Dickens, he stumbles upon gastro-pubs, a flatulent daschund (Lord Nelson), a sex-starved landlady, crazed Audi drivers, and a series of murders! As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he attracts the attention of DCI Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who is determined to tie Thelonious to the crimes. Add in a pair of shaven-headed thugs (the upwardly mobile Desmond Clark and his psychopath brother Vinnie) from London’s East End, celebrity TV chef Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to a madcap journey through England’s most peculiar county, where everything is normal for Norfolk! This quirky new crime novel is the first in the fun new series from bestselling author Mitzi Szereto, co-authored with her celebrity sidekick bear, Teddy Tedaloo. Paddington Bear meets Midsomer Murders in this hilarious murder mystery told from a bear’s-eye point of view. You have to buy into the idea that a talking bear is not an anomaly, but that it is normal. Perhaps it is normal for Norfolk, but Thelonious manages quite well in big cities. The author dives right into the nuts and bolts of life as a bear, from the problematic height of door handles down to bear shoe size and tries to fill the petrol tank of his specially adapted Mini Cooper. We as humans take life for granted: try being a bear with an arrest looming. Thelonious doesn’t set out to solve these murders. He just has to do something to keep the coppers off his back.
Tongue-in-cheek humor, including some clever political and social commentary, hair-raising escapades, and eccentric characters that you know you’ve met before (in your own life!), despite their very Englishness, all add up to a laugh-a-line read. I loved this book. It could have been longer, but I console myself with the knowledge that there is more to come, if Thelonious has anything to do with it. There is some bad language, but mostly from Desmond and Vinnie who possibly haven’t the education to know any better.