Friday, June 3, 2016
Friday Forgotten (or Overlooked) Book: DEATH BY A HONEYBEE by Abigail Keam
Surprise! This is not a vintage read, but one I sort of stumbled across on my booky perambulations online. In fact, I read it on my Kindle so I must have downloaded it when it was nicely (and cheaply) priced - that's when I'll take a chance on a book by an author I've never heard of before. I mean, who can resist just paying a buck or two?
I liked this debut mystery a lot and went on to read the next two in the series. (In my view, the first and second books are the best so far). And yes, it does sound like a cozy, but I'd call it more of a cozy on steroids.
Josiah Reynolds is the heroine of the piece - yes, she is a she named Josiah (not quite clear but I think it's mentioned that this is some sort of family name, but I found it confusing at first) and she is a crusty Southern lady of about fifty. The book's action takes place in and around the colorful horse haven of Lexington, Kentucky. Part of the charm of these books is the local color, not to mention the various eccentrics who populate this unique area of the country. The author gets the ambience just right, I think. (Or at least as we imagine Lexington, Kentucky might be.)
A beekeeper struggling to make ends meet, Josiah sells honey at the local Farmer's Market, though she is by no means, indigent. She lives in an architecturally historic house filled with art which she refuses to sell and thus, it's hard not to feel that she's just a bit too stubborn for her own good. 'The Butterfly' is the remarkable creation of her ex-husband, an architect who left Josiah for a younger woman and has since died - the husband, not the girlfriend. In the meantime, said girlfriend has reaped all the financial benefits, but Josiah - at least - got to keep the house and the art. And to keep on keeping it, she needs to make a living.
Josiah is the type of person who doesn't sit still when she's threatened, she is feisty and sarcastic and faces the world with a pugnacious attitude which serves her well in this first mystery of the series. When a man with whom she has been feuding is found dead among Josiah's beehives, she naturally enough becomes the obvious suspect in the murder.
The author gives us the usual supply of colorful friends and enemies who pop in and out as Josiah sets out to find a killer. There's also an added bit of mystery attached to a grown daughter who seems to be some sort of kick-ass mucky-muck in a stealthy armed forces group. She shows up now and then to do for her mother, when she's not traveling the world trouble-spot to trouble-spot.
I know this set-up sounds a bit cozy and I also know that for some of you that is the kiss of death, but honestly, this didn't read much like one (not that there's anything wrong with that). Josiah doesn't seem to me, to be the everyday run-of-the-mill cozy heroine, she is irascible and confrontational and the book ends in a doozy of a cliff-hanger. Plus there is the added attraction (at least for me) of lots of interesting lore about bees, creatures which I have always found fascinating.
Since this is Friday, don't forget to check in at author Patti Abbott's blog, Pattinase, to see what other forgotten or overlooked books other bloggers are talking about today.