A Matter of Hive and Death
An Oregon Honeycomb Mystery, Book #2
By Nancy Coco
Author’s Website: nancyjcoco(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When a bee wrangler is bludgeoned, Let It Bee honey shop owner Wren Johnson makes it her beeswax to solve the crime…
For the picturesque town of Oceanview on the Oregon coast, May brings blossoming fruit trees and the annual UFO festival in nearly McMinnville. As Aunt Eloise tries out alien costumes on handsome Havana Brown cat Everett, Wren is off to meet with a bee wrangler, her go-to guy for local fruit tree honey.
But when she arrives, Elias Bentwood is lying on the ground amidst destroyed hives and a swarm of angry bees. The bees didn’t kill him, a blow to the head did. As blue-eyed Officer Jim Hampton investigates and the area is invaded by its own swarm of conspiracy theorists and crackpots, Wren and Aunt Eloise decide the only way to catch the bee wrangler’s killer is to set up a sting. . . (Back Cover)
This is a honey of a second mystery in Nancy Coco’s new series! I am so ready to visit Wren and Oceanview on the Oregon coast. Living close enough to the ocean to hear the waves as Wren does would be amazing, if one can get around the killers and conspiracy theorists. The characters are very likable even if some are a bit eccentric. To me, it is interesting to learn about bees and honey and their value to the balance of nature. The mystery is intriguing and challenging,
After her college graduation, Wren returned to Oceanview and spent a year apprenticing to Elias as a bee wrangler. She then opened Let It Bee, a popular honey shop where she sells locally sourced honey, beeswax candles, lotions, and various other products. She makes almost all the products she sells from local bee products. Wren is preparing for her second anniversary sale and went to see Elias to get some flower honey, now in season. When she arrives, there is a swarm of angry bees in his backyard, and it looks as though the hives nearest his house were vandalized.
Wren went inside and called Elias. She finally looked out a window where she could see he was lying still on the ground. She called 9-1-1 and a local bee wrangler who was a close friend of Elias; Klaus assisted the EMT’s in getting through the swarms of angry bees to get Elias to the ambulance. Elias, however, was dead, murdered, according to the information the police received while Officer Jim was getting information from Wren.
Millie, one of the beekeepers who came to help Klaus and Wren get the hives right and the bees calmed and captured, was engaged to Elias. Wren learns that several beekeepers in the area have had hives damaged, but here it looks more like the hives were damaged to try to hide the murder.
Devastated, Millie brought an envelope to Wren the next day. Elias had recently asked that she give it to Wren at the right time, if warranted. Inside was a letter he had written, stating that he was getting close to whoever was vandalizing the beehives in the area and if anything happened to him, he wanted Wren to try to resolve it. Not long ago, she had solved a murder that she was falsely arrested for, so many people want to do the same again.
Wren does not want to get involved with another case. Not only is it not safe, but she has the store’s second anniversary sale. Immediately after that, Aunt Eloise wants her to attend some of the UFO festival events with her. She realizes that it is important to the beekeepers in the area to find out who the vandals are, and Elias had been a good friend to her and deserves justice.
Even though this is the second in the series, it could be read as a standalone as the character background and development include all that is necessary to know. I enjoyed Wren and her aunt, and even the trio of conspiracy theorists at the UFO festival were delightful. Eloise, Wren, and the store manager, Porsche, are great working together to do whatever is needed not only for the shop, but for each other. Wren is very likable, as evidenced by how she could talk with Elias’s grumpy old neighbor, and he wouldn’t even talk with the police!
Eloise and Wren are treasures. They could be a real crime-solving duo if they planned their adventures a little more carefully, such as planning to have backup. Wren took some chances with clues that she found! I enjoyed learning of the Havana Brown cat breed and how well harnessed and leash-trained he was. There were surprises in store regarding who the bad guy was with regard to murder, injuries, and vandalism, and the depth of the deception to the situation. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and am looking forward to reading more in the series!