I started to get a little worried when I saw the map at the beginning of the Queen Bee Mysteries first novel Buzz Off by Hannah Reed. Usually when there’s a map it means you’ll be going back and forth to find out where the action’s taking place.
But this map was only consulted a couple of times which was good since I had to become familiar with the small town of Moraine, WI where the story takes place.
Over the last couple of weeks, it’s been no secret that the books I’ve read have been pretty bad and when I sat down in my bed to start reading this new entry into a new series I couldn’t put it down. Well, okay the first night I read the first couple of chapters then put it down so that I could get some sleep, but once you get going you can’t put this read down.
We begin with the divorce party of Melissa “Story” Fischer who’s been back in her hometown for a couple of years where she and her ex husband, Clay Lane, bought a church and turned it into a little country grocery store. They were also able to buy her childhood home and another house next door so that Clay could make one of a kind jewelry.
During the party Story’s former flame Hunter Wallace, a Waukesha sheriff arrives and requests that she go with him out to Manny Chapman’s honey house since he was discovered unconscious with bee’s and honey all over his body. It just so happens that Manny’s wife, Grace is at the store and the three head off to the Chapman’s.
Over the last year, Manny’s been Story’s mentor when it comes to bees. The two had gone into business together and Manny was always working on new ways to improve his colonies. When they arrive Story’s quick to point out that the honeybees wouldn’t have become aggressive towards him and makes her argument for what may have happened.
A day later after being under a lot of stress she decides to go for a kayak ride but someone’s taken it again. Hunter goes with her and while the two are on the river (in a borrowed canoe) they’re caught in the middle of a storm and they find the missing kayak with the body of Faye Tilley in it. Faye just happens to be Clay’s latest girlfriend and a near perfect lookalike of Story.
Police Chief Johnny Jay, who still resents the fact Story turned him down for the prom, has her brought in for questioning for Faye’s murder and is suspicious of Manny’s death as well.
Along the way, we’re introduced to the towns whacky cast of characters and they all are a little whacky. Luckily, we’re not as bogged down with them as much as you’d think since Reed only uses them when she needs to. My first thought when these characters were being introduced was that we’d have to go through their boring backstories but luckily we don’t. They’re there then they’re gone.
While this first novel is highly entertaining there were some flaws to it.
In almost every chapter Reed uses bullet points to highlight a particular item. Whether it’s about rural roads or the different types of honey it kind of takes away from the story. I’m reading a novel not a business report is what came to mind and sometimes when Story’s talking to the other characters she states “bullet point number one” and so on. I don’t know anyone who talks like this, nor do I know anyone who talks like her sister, Holly, in text abbreviations.
Reed does do a good job of making you guess who the murderer is as I found myself flip flopping amongst the characters. Since I had so many to choose from I stopped at one point just so I could absorb the story but I think I found myself wondering again and I think Reed won.
What was also appealing about the novel is since it takes place in September, I didn’t know it was National Honey Month and after the book ends you’ll be treated to some honey recipes. Even I might try to test one for Thanksgiving.
Oh and there was one other thing about Story which was odd. With the books I’ve reviewed in the past never has there been a mention to a characters particular fetish. It turns out that Story has a thing for men’s feet.
I’m afraid to know what the second installment will feature.