Published by Berkley Prime Crime
I love a cozy mystery to relax with, and when it gives me not only an interesting whodunit but something new I can learn about, I always feel like I hit a jackpot. Hannah Reed has done just that with her new series.
Story Fischer is celebrating her divorce from her skirt-chasing now ex-husband, Clay Lane by having a one-day sale on everything in her store, The Wild Clover, and offering champagne. She is also celebrating the kick-off campaign for September National Honey Month. Story has been learning beekeeping from her mentor, Manny Chapman, and she is now the proud owner of two strong beehives. Manny has studied and kept a journal on every aspect of honeybees and is the owner operator of the strongest, most productive honey farm in Wisconsin.
Buzz Off is told in first person by Story. Her celebration is interrupted suddenly with the news that Manny is unconscious and may be dead. The police and paramedics can't tell because he is covered with bees and they can't get at him. They need Story to get the bees away. She can not believe he would be killed by honeybees, especially when they have a lot of honey to take back to their hives, but she does notice yellow-jackets among the bees which definitely could do the deed. Unfortunately, nobody believes her. We are now at the crux of the mystery. Story believes it is murder, everyone else thinks the bees killed him and the town, led by the overzealous wife of the town chairman, is out to get Storey's bees.
Moraine is a very small town, more like a neighborhood. As such, readers might think there would be no way for secrets to be kept, but readers, you would be wrong. This town abounds with secrets, even with a very informed but oft mistaken gossip queen in their midst. Hannah Reed has peopled the book with a melange of quirky characters in this small town. The story flows well, the research done by Hannah is excellent, I suspect from her obvious care and knowledge that she is also a beekeeper when she isn't writing. In fact, being around the hives is probably conducive to writing, a music of its own. More character-driven than not, this series promises to be flat out fun, murders aside. I found this book enjoyable, descriptive, and the feel of the book is well-defined. Readers may feel they have been dropped into the story and become a part of it. The crimes are well-plotted and the solutions hinted at remain well-hidden. The heroine is flawed just enough to feel comfortable with, no perfect specimen of femininity here, and she is no slouch under attack, but she is very entertaining. A good beginning to this series, I know I will be following it wherever it takes me. Recipes included.