Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beeline To Trouble - Hannah Reed


Beeline To Trouble
A Queen Bee Mystery
Hannah Reed
Berkley Prime Crime
Story Fischer is having a really bad morning.  First her sister shows up, whining about houseguests she’s not prepared to feed.  Apparently, Holly’s husband Max, the wealthy businessman, brought home three members of his current work team for the weekend, and, despite having both a fulltime housekeeper and warning, Holly wants Story to take care of everything for her.  Starting with breakfast.  Right now.  Not long after, Story discovers that her overbearing widowed mother is going to be moving in with her new boyfriend.  In the house right next door to Story’s.  Where Hunter, Story’s guy, just moved in with her.

If you like your mystery with a large dose of ‘zany,’ then this is the mystery for you.  If you don’t, lower your expectations accordingly.  All of the above and more happens, in detail, long before any aspect of the main story gets going.  Since my tolerance for ‘zany’ is low, I had a hard time getting through the first thirty or forty pages.  Eventually, though, Story takes Max and his coworkers on a tour of her apiary.  One of the coworkers, Nova, who is noticeably playing up to Max, says she doesn’t feel well and opts out of a tour of the honey house.  When the group emerges minutes later, Nova is suddenly, inexplicably, dead. 
Naturally, Story wants to know what happened in her own back yard.  Even more so, since she and Holly look like they’re the prime suspects in the murder.  Off-kilter neighbor Patti now writes for the local paper (and handcrafted her own ‘press pass,’ believing it gives her access to everywhere and everyone) and is soon involved in the case in a big way.  Story saw her running away from Nova’s body, but neglects to mention that to anyone, unwilling to believe that Patti, odd as she is, would be violent.  Undeterred as ever, Patti inserts herself into the investigation, causing mayhem wherever she goes.

The mystery plot, divorced from all the goofy sideline action, is a good one.  There are several good suspects and some new developments that change the picture substantially.  It’s everything a good mystery should be.  And that’s really too bad, because all the antic subplots really detract from the main story.  Holly and Story are both suspects, and the local police chief would like nothing better than to arrest one or both of them.  That’s plenty to hang your hat on without resorting to screwball comedy scenes that only serve to undercut the action.  This is clearly not the strongest installment in an otherwise entertaining series (BUZZ OFF, MIND YOUROWN BEESWAX, PLAN BEE) but I’ll be visiting tiny Moraine, Wisconsin again to see how Story and her bees are faring.
Rating: 6
December 2012
ISBN#  978-0-425-25180-5 (paperback)  


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