A Queen Bee Mystery

By Hannah Reed

Berkley, 2011 ($7.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-425-24159-2

Reviewed by Katherine Petersen

Beekeeper and shop owner Melissa "Story" Fischer has a stranger in one of her candle-making classes one Saturday who turns out to be Lauren Kerrigan, who has returned home after 16 years in prison for murdering Police Chief Johnny Jay's father. That evening, while out searching for a swarm of bees who escaped, Story; her sister, Holly; and P.P. "Pity Party" Patti Dwyer heard two gunshots which they'd attributed to someone shooting wild game. But when they return to Stu's bar for a drink, they find the Kerrigan clan organizing a search for the missing Lauren who has disappeared along with her mother's gun.

Story and her boyfriend, Hunter Wallace, stumble across Lauren's body and Hetty, whom the kids called the local witch, also turns up murdered. Did Johnny kill Lauren out of revenge? Who hates Hetty that much? Story has some ideas and starts nosing around. Meanwhile, Johnny Jay has had it out for Story since primary school and tosses her in jail after she falls from a ladder into his crime scene.

Story doesn't meekly go around asking questions but possesses her own style of investigating which entails burglary and trying to get the medical examiner drunk in order to question him. Hannah Reed's writing has flashes of brilliance but Story's propensity to talk in bullet points and Holly to speak as if she's texting still distracts. It bugged me in the first book, and it still does. I did like the plot of the second book better than the first and particularly enjoyed the mix of past and present. But, more importantly, I don't like Story. She's plucky and smart, but it's hard to really like a book when you don't care if the "good gals" win. She seems pretty unhappy and frankly I'm not sure what Hunter Wallace sees in her. Perhaps, I'm being unfair, but with so many really good cozy mystery series out there...

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