Michael A. Mallory and Marilyn Victor, the authors of the Snake Jones zoo mysteries
THE SNAKE JONES MYSTERIES
What I like about Michael A. Mallory and Marilyn Victor’s zoo series is that I learn a lot about animals which normally live in the wild, their nature and needs, and also the complex habitats and care that they need when confined in a zoo. I also like the character, Snake Jones, and her Australian husband, Jeff, who both work for the Minnesota Valley Zoo and also for a TV series called Zoofari.
The plots in their first two books are intricately developed and satisfying to unravel. I can identify with the main characters, and I like their priorities: caring for the earth and its wildlife, working at jobs they love and coping with the multiple surprises that a giant saltwater crocodile or an extra large Red kangaroo can provide.
There have been movies and books about the much maligned wolf of the forests of the northern U.S. and Canada, but I learned about the behavior of wolves who had bonded with human beings when puppies.
Death Roll came out from Five Star in 2007. A death roll is what a crocodile does when he gets a victim. He can leap out of the water, and then, once he has gotten his meal into "a bone-crushing grip, he drags it into the water, rolling over and over until he drowns it. Then he’ll stuff the carcass under a log or a rock to rot and eat at his leisure." [Death Roll, p. 37].
Unfortunately, the zoo director ends up in a death roll during the zoo’s major fund-raising dinner. Snake and Jeff’s friend and co-worker is accused of pushing the director in, and Snake sets out to prove his innocence, despite her old boyfriend, the police detective, trying to keep her out of it. The more Snake uncovers, the more dangerous it gets for her. So many people disliked the director, and they all had things to hide.
The second in their series, Killer Instinct, came out from Five Star in 2011. Snake, with others of the Zoofari crew are filming at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. Some wolves are raised there, and the public can see and learn about wolves up close. Other wolves in the wild are tracked and cared for as needed in a large wilderness area.
When some of the wild wolves are shot illegally, the Center has a team of Wildlife Investigators working to find out what happened and who killed the animals. Then a suspect is murdered, and Snake is pulled into solving both the wolf and human deaths.
This is a refreshing series for its focus on wildlife and all the education that is seamlessly slipped in for readers in addition to the fun of knowing characters comfortable with these animals and dedicated to preserving their species and habitats.
Check out their website: www.snakejones.com and their blog: http://zofari.blogspot.com
There’s a newly released trade paperback editor for Death Roll, now available from Amazon.
Marilyn Victor, an animal lover since she could walk, was a volunteer at the Minnesota Zoo for many years and shares her home with a revolving menagerie of homeless pets she fosters for a local animal rescue organization. She has been president of the Twin Cities chapter of Sisters in Crime, a national organization devoted to promoting male and female mystery writers. She works in the risk management department of a construction company when not writing or rescuing wildlife.
Michael Allan Mallory works in the Information Technology field and is an avid animal lover. He volunteers at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and was an associate member of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. He lives with his wife, Cathy, and two dynamo cats in a suburb of Minneapolis.