Ember, a clever young snake, must solve the mystery behind a zookeeper’s death before the accused lion is executed, or else she’ll become the lion’s last meal. SHERLOCK HOLMES meets THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.
Ember smelled a body.
She flicked her tongue. Fear and uncertainty filled the cool, dry air. Clumps of zookeepers huddled on the paved paths below, their voices a quiet buzz, but no monkeys hooted, no cats roared. The Galapagos tortoise ground away at a breakfast of leaves and flowers. Behind him, the flamingos stood on single legs, silent but watching. Even the sea lions hushed.
Ember should have been in her cage, asleep for the day. Instead, she stretched her thin, winding body over the flat roof of the reptile building, the sun reflecting off her orange-brown scales. The silence captured her attention.
Two human police officers rolled a metal rectangle past her building, and the harsh screech of its wheels sent shivers through the concrete. A sheet covered the shape on top, but the scent of death—like warm, moldering leaves—was unmistakable.
Who had died?
The roof quivered, and a dank odor filled Ember’s mouth. Primates. Always in need of a bath.
Long, skinny fingers grabbed Ember’s tail and yanked her into the air.
“The King wants to see you.”
Ember stared through the dark slits of her eyes into the upside down face of a monkey.
The monkey blinked. “You know, the male lion?”
“What makes you think I have any interest in the affairs of mammals?” Ember preferred her fellow reptiles. They kept to themselves. And they didn’t stink.
Ember nipped the monkey’s paw. He tasted worse than he smelled.
He hooted and dropped her. “You’re a rainbow boa, right? A constrictor? Not venomous?”
If only she were.