"A lady cop turned farmer. . .What fun!" Joanne Fluke
Ex-cop Abigail Mackenzie has started a second careeras a farmer. Raising chickens, keeping bees, and growing heirloom vegetables on her farmette in the Bay Area, Abby has a peaceful life. Yet trouble just seems to make a beeline for her. . .
When Abby attempts to deliver her artisanal honey to local pastry chef Jean-Louis Bonheur and finds him dead in his shop, her investigative instincts kick in. After the chef's handsome brother insists on hiring Abby to find out who killed Jean-Louis, she must sort through a swarm of suspects. But as she closes in on the truth, she'll need more than her beekeeper suit to protect her from a killer's sting. . .
Includes farming tips and delicious recipes!
"Will leave readers buzzing happily." Leslie Budewitz
"A triple treat: a California wine country setting, a touch of romance with a handsome Frenchman, and country hints and recipes from the writer's own farmette." Rhys Bowen
"Beekeeping, organic gardening, pastry bakingan engaging debut mystery." Library Journal
About the Author
Meera Lester is the author of nearly two dozen nonfiction books and the proprietress of the real Henny Penny Farmette, located in the San Francisco Bay area. Raising chickens and honeybees, she draws on her life at her farmette as the basis of her Henny Penny Farmette mysteries. She blogs about life there at hennypennyfarmette.com. You can also visit her at meeralester.com/mlls; facebook.com/meera.lester; and Twitter.com/MeeraLester.
Read an Excerpt
A Beeline to Murder
By Meera Lester
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Meera Lester
All rights reserved.
A drone (male honeybee) must be able to fly fifty feet straight up, or he will miss the chance to mate with the queen; it is nature's way of ensuring a robust gene pool.
— Henny Penny Farmette Almanac
Abigail Mackenzie pushed the trowel deep into the soft, loamy earth where she had been planting lavender from gallon pots. She rocked back on her heels and cocked her head to one side, listening intently. The low-pitched drone could mean only one thing. Removing her gloves, Abby pushed a tangle of reddish-gold hair off her face and yanked up a hemmed corner of her faded work shirt to wipe the perspiration from her forehead. Squinting up into the dappled sunlit branches, she spotted them: thousands of honeybees writhing in a toffee-colored mass in the crotch of the apricot tree.
"Arghh," Abby groaned. "Would it have killed you to wait another day?"
The sound of honeybees swarming ordinarily would have lifted Abby's spirits; it meant an additional hive for her growing colony of bees. But today that buzzing pushed her stress level as high as the cloudless May sky. The queen and her entourage had left the hive en masse, and unless Abby acted quickly, they would follow their winged scouts to a suitable new home, even if that home was five to eight miles away. To rescue the bees, she would have to don her beekeeper's suit, position a hive beneath the swarm, tie a rope around the apricot limb, and shake it with enough force to dislodge the bees into the open box — all adding up to precious minutes that she would have to shave from her already over-scheduled morning.
Watching the bees coalesce into a thickening corpus, Abby pondered the remote possibility that the bees might also hang around. But, for certain, the lavender wasn't going to plant itself. More importantly, she couldn't postpone delivering that file to the district attorney's office before noon if she expected to get paid for her part-time investigative work. And, of course, she had better get those ten jars of honey to the chef at the Las Flores Patisserie by eight thirty or risk another dressing-down, although the chef's cursing in French somehow rendered it less offensive.
Blowing a puff of air between her lips in exasperation, Abby threw down the trowel. The lavender and the bees would have to wait. Chef Jean-Louis Bonheur could be a tyrant or a charmer, and his moods seemed to swing without warning. She could only hope that today he'd be happy to see her. He was paying her well — twenty-two dollars for a sixteen-ounce jar. With her first delivery of lavender-flavored honey, the chef had convinced her to also sample his delectable pastries and had even invited her to watch him work. Abby recalled how she had enjoyed the role of observer — he was definitely eye candy, with thick brown hair, large brown eyes, and a buffed physique. It didn't hurt that he oozed personality. What woman wouldn't fall for that combination? But Jean-Louis was gay, and his hair-trigger temper had already become legendary along Main Street. So she vowed today to skip the banter and just deliver her honey, get paid, and stick to her schedule.
After guiding the Jeep into the parking space at number three Lemon Lane, the alley behind the patisserie, which faced Main Street, Abby checked her watch and smiled. Five minutes early. Not like last time, when she'd arrived late because of a flat tire to find Chef Jean-Louis in his kitchen, pacing and swearing under his breath. He'd shocked her by throwing a pastry bag of batter that he'd been piping onto a parchment-lined baking sheet with such force, it knocked over a bowl of chocolate ganache. And later, while counting out cash to pay her for the delivery, he'd launched into another tirade, punctuating his French exclamations with incredulous glares, his hands wildly gesticulating in the air. As she hurriedly pocketed the money and made her way to back door, he'd called out an apology, or so she'd thought. His words stuck with her. "It is not you, AHbee." She'd never get used to his pronunciation of her name. "Non, c'est Etienne. Il est en retard." Apparently, she hadn't been the only person that day to violate the chef's obsession with punctuality.
Now with minutes to spare, Abby hoisted the box containing the sixteen-ounce jars of honey into her arms and scampered to the pastry shop back door, which stood slightly open.
"Chef?" Abby called cheerfully through the crack. "Chef Jean-Louis. It's Abigail Mackenzie. I've got your honey order here."
Abby pushed the box against the door. It swung open. Inside, the sudden hum of the motor of the chef's commercial-size, stainless-steel refrigerator kicked on. The sound pierced the silence of the empty kitchen. On the long center island, metal sheets of pastries on cooling racks awaited icing, filling, and drizzling. Cream horn and madeleine molds, pastry slabs, baking liners, mats, and cannoli tubes littered the counter space. Next to a large mixing bowl of royal icing lay a pastry bag filled with icing that had hardened from its wide tip. The ovens were still on, and the burnt smell of cake permeated the room.
Abby frowned. Something was terribly wrong with this scene. Setting the box of honey on the island, she instinctively grabbed a pot holder and turned off the oven. The law enforcement training she had gone through while at the academy and during her seven years with the Las Flores Police Department had honed her senses. Now, like back in the day, when she was often the first at the scene of a crime, her stomach knotted in that old familiar way. Why would the chef leave the premises with the back door open? Why was the CD player not on, when the chef, a fan of opera, always listened to his favorite arias while he worked? And why was his workstation so messy, when the chef took great pride in keeping his kitchen clean and organized to be as efficient as possible? Where was Chef Jean-Louis?
Abby's pulse quickened. Her muscles tightened. What's going on here? Abby tensed as she looked around. "Jean-Louis," she called. And then again more loudly, "Hello, Chef. Are you here?"
Abby moved the box of honey in jars over to the cupboard where the chef usually stored them, since his pantry was often overflowing with supplies. Turning back, she walked slowly to the other side of the large island and rounded the corner. Her breath caught in her throat. There lay the chef, near the pantry door — eyes open, body not moving.
"Oh, my God in heaven!" Abby knelt and felt his wrist. No pulse. She leaned against his chest, desperately hoping to detect a breath. His open eyes were dull and cloudy. The ashen pallor of his skin, the bluish-colored lips, and the nonreactive and dilated pupils told Abby he was gone. She looked for signs that would tell her how he'd died. Instinctively, she peered at his neck and the narrow ligature mark it bore. Her senses flew into high alert.
Scanning the room for any sign of movement, Abby slowly rose. So what happened here? Had he killed himself? Or had he been the victim of foul play? She glanced at the pantry door, which was not completely closed. Could a killer be hiding on the premises? Heart pounding, adrenaline racing, Abby took out her cell and tapped the speed dial for her old boss.
"Chief Bob Allen, please," Abby said in a low voice. When he answered, she replied softly, "It's Abigail Mackenzie. I want to report a death. It's Chef Jean-Louis Bonheur ... and it looks suspicious. You might want to send a unit to his pastry shop on Main. I entered through the rear, facing Lemon Lane."
Abby stared at the pantry door. Spotting a box of latex gloves on the counter, which the staff used to handle pastries, Abby took two and slipped her hands into them. She slowly, firmly grasped the pantry doorknob. Held her breath and yanked hard. She flipped on the light switch. Seeing no one, she exhaled in relief and pivoted slightly and noticed a length of knotted twine tied to the inside knob. The loose end had been cleanly cut and lay on the tile floor. An icy shiver ran up her spine. It looked like suicide, but who'd cut down the body?
Abby understood that she'd unwittingly stumbled into a crime scene. She knew how quickly the officers could respond to a call, especially to the pastry shop, which was located just ten blocks from the police station. Police headquarters occupied the first floor of the Dillingham Dairy Building, a century-old, two-story brick building situated at the end of Main Street, next to the city offices of the mayor, the town council, and the district attorney. Abby didn't want to contaminate the scene in any way, but her instincts told her to take in the details.
Gazing down upon the chef's dim, unanimated eyes, their once snappy brilliance forever quelled, Abby felt a twinge of sadness. She noted that the sleeves of his chef's jacket were rolled almost to the elbows and that his left forearm was tattooed with what looked to be an interlocked nine and six. Siren screams ended Abby's observations. She quickly peeled off the gloves and tucked them into her jeans pockets.
A tall, blond-haired uniformed officer, her gun and nightstick holstered on her duty belt and her black boots shining, apparently from a recent polishing, stepped in through the back door. Abby relaxed and grinned. So the police chief had sent Officer Katerina Petrovsky to investigate. Kat had been Abby's best friend since they met at the Napa Police Academy. Abby had been invited as a guest speaker when Kat was still a cadet. Finding themselves seated together during the lunch that preceded Abby's talk and again afterward, Abby and Kat had promised to stay in touch. Later, after Kat had been hired by the Las Flores Police Department, Abby had served as her field training officer.
Before the two friends could say hello, a malnourished woman with matted gray hair and bright blue eyes banged her metal shopping cart filled with stuffed plastic bags against the wall before shuffling in through the open back door. Abby instantly recognized Dora; she was one of Las Flores's more colorful eccentrics.
"Where's my coffee?" she asked. "The chef always gives me coffee."
"Not today, Dora," Kat replied.
Abby watched Dora try to undo the covered button of her once stylish, threadbare gray sweater — the task made more difficult since Dora seemed intent on not removing her 1940s-style cotton gloves. Abby remembered meeting a much younger Dora years ago at the historical cemetery, when the nearby, newly constructed crematorium had caught fire. That was before Shadyside Funeral Home was built; before the Las Flores Creek had flooded, prompting the town council to prohibit the building of any new cemetery within city limits; and long before Dora's chestnut-colored hair had turned gray and she had taken to sleeping at the homeless encampment beneath the bridge by the creek.
"I want my coffee."
"The chef can't give you coffee today," Kat explained. "You have to leave."
"No, he told me, 'Later. Come back later.'"
"When did he tell you that?" asked Kat.
"He always tells me that."
"Okay, well, there is no coffee today. So out you go." The officer took Dora by the arm and escorted her through the back door.
"You should talk to her. She gets around," Abby said when Kat had reentered the kitchen. Abby pulled another pair of gloves from the box on the counter and slipped them on.
Kat looked at her with a wary eye. "Yeah, but usually her conversations are with those voices inside her head, so I'll get right on that, girlfriend, but I'd like to see the body first."
"Over there." Abby pointed to the opposite side of the island.
"And why, may I ask, were you here?"
"Delivering my honey. What else? When I got here, Kat, he was already dead, lying just like that. I swear."
"Uh-huh. And of course you didn't touch anything, did you?"
Abby had anticipated the question. "I promise you won't find my fingerprints on anything here except my honey jars."
"Good." Kat walked over to view the body more closely. She scanned the scene, taking special note of the area where the chef lay on the black-and-white tile floor.
"No blood, no splatter, unless you count stipples of frosting," Abby observed.
"So how did he die?" Kat asked. Unsnapping the fastener on the small pouch of her duty belt, Kat removed a pair of latex gloves. Sliding her hands into them, she knelt to look closely at the body. She leaned in to see the ligature marks on the neck. "What could he have possibly done to anyone to get himself killed?"
"Well, he could have killed himself. Take a look at the pantry doorknob ... on the inside."
Kat stood and walked to the pantry. "I see what you mean. So if he hung himself, who took the ligature from around his neck and laid out his body on the floor? And what did he use to stand on?"
"All good questions I've been asking myself," said Abby. "Since the only chair in here holds a ten-pound bag of meringue powder, I'm guessing he didn't use it to stand on. Maybe a café chair from the other room?"
"Yeah," Kat said with a peculiar look. "And I guess after he hung himself, he got up and moved it back?"
"Well, someone else was here. When I arrived, the back door was ajar. Perhaps someone he knew."
Kat's expression grew more incredulous. "Would that be the someone who couldn't bear to see him hanging? Or the someone who wanted to tidy up after murdering him?"
Abby chuckled. "I see you haven't lost your sense of humor. Clearly, if he was murdered, there would have to be a motive."
"Pretty much everyone on Main Street has experienced the chef's temper."
"Yeah," admitted Abby. "Even I have felt the brunt of his temper. But he was also generous to a fault. I mean, he doled out coffee and sweets to unemployed vets and the homeless." Abby watched as Kat surveyed the kitchen before strolling into the adjacent room, where glass display cases and small wooden café tables and chairs filled the cramped space. Fleur-de-lis wallpaper above dark wainscoting was partially obscured by the numerous black-and-white posters of Parisian scenes. Above the cash register a memento board hung slightly askew. Its crisscrossed red ribbon secured photographs of customers and friends posing with the chef.
Kat leaned in for a closer look.
"I've come through that door many a morning while his ovens were still on and the smell of freshly baked dough permeated the place," said Abby. "People would line up outside, all the way down to the antique store. Well, you know, he always had free coffee and fresh pastries for us cops. He liked having law enforcement around."
"For being in such a small space and open for only two and a half years, his business seemed to be booming."
"True, but you and I both know that things aren't always as they appear."
"Uh-huh." Kat walked toward the restroom, which was tucked off the kitchen, and flicked on the overhead light to look around.
"Is his apron in there?" Abby asked. "He never worked without one."
"You don't say. Now, what made you think of a detail like that?"
"Lest you forget, I notice little things like that."
"Does anything else come to mind?"
"Not really. I just remember how he always tucked a towel into his apron strings. Makes sense if you're wiping your hands often. You'll notice he doesn't have dough or icing or flour on his clothes, so he must have worn an apron if he worked all night in the kitchen. And I don't see it."
Kat looked behind the restroom door. "Not here." She walked back to the body, where she halted, finger against her radio call button. She pushed the button, and dispatch answered. "We've got a DOA at number three Lemon Lane. Notify the coroner and get me backup."
"Need help documenting this?" Abby asked.
"I ain't sayin' no. Just me and Otto working the streets this week."
"I thought Chief Bob Allen had hired some new recruits."
"Yeah, but three are in San Francisco for defensive tactics training, two are getting recertified at the firearm range, and our crime-scene photographer is in L.A. all week."
Abby winced. She knew working short staffed could be grueling, what with patrol work, traffic stops, ticket and report writing, court appearances, and the like. God forbid anything more serious, like a robbery or a murder, should happen. When she and Kat had worked together, their beat was the downtown district. They had worked mostly petty crimes, which ranged from the occasional burglary to high school pranks and shoplifting.
Excerpted from A Beeline to Murder by Meera Lester. Copyright © 2015 Meera Lester. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the mystery in this book as well as the bee information and other farm/plant tidbits interspersed in it and the recipes. I liked the characters and the small town setting. Jean-Louis, a pastry chef, is dead. Was her murdered or did he commit suicide as the police chief said to close the case. His brother, Philippe, hires Abby to look into it because he believes that his brother was murdered. There were several suspects that may have committed the murder, but also no solid evidence that it wasn't a suicide. Abby is determined to find out the truth. I read the third book in this series and really liked it and am now going back to read the other books in the series. This one did not disappoint.
Great mystery!! Loved that she is an ex-cop and wanted a farm!! Great neighbor just might bring in the romance too! Fast paced and very enjoyable!
Dollycas’s Thoughts Abigail Mackenzie has left the police force for life on a farm. Her new life includes chickens, bees and growing veggies and fruits. She also does a little investigating on her own to help pay the bills. While delivering a new batch of honey to a local restaurant she finds chef Jean-Louis Bonheur dead in his kitchen. The police quickly rule his death as a suicide and close the case. When the chef’s brother comes to town he finds the ruling unacceptable and get a bee in his bonnet to hire Abby to investigate. She would just as soon make a beeline in the other direction but she has a hard time bee-lieving the chef would take his own life too. Together they try to find out if he was really murdered but they could both get stung before they get all the answers they need. I liked Abigail Mackenzie from the very first page. She left the police force due to an injury but she still helps out when she can. Shocked to find a man she knows dead her training kicks right in. She checks the body and the scene and gives a thorough report when the officers reach the scene and she continues to theorize what may have happened. She even jumps in to help the medical examiner’s assistant, new and on his first call, get the body on the gurney and in the body bag. All the while searching for more clues. She is respected in the community and that helps as she takes on the investigation herself. She is patient and wise and sees things other people miss. She is my kind of amateur sleuth. Ms. Lester’s writes with a very even flow. She introduces us to all the characters and their relationships. Some are more fluid and some are just developing. I found all of the characters very interesting and want to get to know them even better in future stories. Her pacing is perfect. The mystery has a few red herrings to divert us from detecting the true killer. I was kept guessing right to the end. I also enjoyed the recipes and tips following each chapter. This is a fine start for this series. I am looking forward to the next installment.
This is the first book in the Henny Penny Farmette Mystery Series featuring former police officer Abigail Mackenzie or Abby as she is known to her friends. Abby left the Las Flores Police force due to an injury that will not let her shoot properly anymore. She purchased a small farmette and has embarked on a new life as a small farmer. Abby is also a beekeeper and when she finds one of her favourite customers, Chef Jean Louis dead on the floor of his bakery, she is sure he has been murdered. When the police chief closes the case and rules it a suicide, his brother hires Abby to investigate and prove that he was murdered. Abby's best friend and former partner, Kat encourages her to investigate and helps her out when she can. They make a great team at solving this crime and I hope more in the future. The characters in the book are interesting and likeable for the most part. It looks like Abby will have some romance coming up in the future books with her handsome neighbour. I really enjoyed this mystery. It was quite realistic and was solved with good investigative work and intuition. At the beginning of each chapter and at the end is a tip or quote about farming, gardening or a recipe. I would definitely recommend this one to cozy mystery fans. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Excellent debut cozy!
This is a new series. It is a cozy murder mystery. Lots of drama, romance, action and suspects. Has humor, recipes, help farming hints, lots of food and picking the wine to go with it. Too me I would rather have the recipes and extra information in the back of the book instead of in the end of chapter it was mentioned in. Abigail Mackenzie used to be a cop before a injury that ended her career. Now she is raising chickens, harvesting honey on a small farm. She is a hard worker trying to make her farm going. She does some investigating on the side for the DA. Abigail is taking her lavender honey to local chef Jean-Louis Bonheur. When she gets there things are burning, back door was open and she she finds him dead. Lots of questions are asked by the scene. Abigail is asked by Jean-Louis's brother Philippe Bonheur to keep investigating after police close the case fast saying it was sucide. Philippe speaks French and is handsome. He wants to find his brother's killer. I like all the information about the honey and different blossoms made the honey change color and flavor. Lots of bee information made the story fleshed out. Part of the mystery I figured out early but not all of the twists. I would like to see more books in this series and see where the characters go to next. I was given this ebook to read by Net Galley and Kensington. In return I agreed to give a honest review of A Beeline to Murder.
In this book we meet some interesting characters. Abigail Mackenzie is a beekeeper and she owns a small farmette outside of Las Flores, California, which is not too far from Napa Valley. Which is California's big wine country area. Abby was a cop on the Las Flores Police Department where her best friend Kat still works. Abby also does some work for the DA in the town along with some private investigations for certain people. She has a standing order with the pastry chef in town to deliver honey to him for his many confections. On this morning Abby was early delivering the honey because she had paperwork to deliver to the DA also. Abby was looking around for Chef Jean-Louis, but could not find him and he did not answer when she called his name. She continued to look and finally found him behind a baking table in the kitchen, DEAD. She quickly called the police and Kat responded with some new people from the morgue. The police did their investigation and when they were done in a few days, they determined that the death was a suicide. When Philippe, the Chef's brother came to claim the body he said that no way would his brother take his own life, the chef was planning a big trip to the Caribbean in July for his birthday. So, Kat connected Phillippe with Abby who agreed to investigate the death for $10,000. She needed the money for renovations for her farmette. Little did she know that she would find a love interest in the handsome French-Canadian. She was able to prove that the death was a murder, but the trail lead them to many people and many twists and turns, before they finally got the correct people. This book was well written, kept my interest, and I have recommended it to all my friends and family. I loved the descriptions of the small town setting which transformed me back to days spent at a farm. The book helped me as an escape from busy daily life to an idyllic place and time. I loved the adventure of solving the puzzle of the murder with Abigail who was easy to like and identify with. I would surely buy it for Christmas presents.
Author Meera Lester makes a sweet debut with, A BEELINE TO MURDER, book one in her Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series! One of the things I really enjoy about cozy mysteries is reading about the different professions and hobbies of the characters in the series. In A BEELINE TO MURDER, I found myself fascinated with protagonist Abigail “Abby” Mackenzie. She is bee keeper and farmer, a part time investigator, and she’s an ex-police officer. I had a lot of fun learning about the ends and outs of bee keeping, and the different things that she did on her farm. There is also more to learn by way of Ms. Lester starting each chapter with tidbits from the Henny Penny Farmette Almanac, and ending each chapter with tips and great recipes! With a tight plot, and a strong cast of characters, A BEELINE TO MURDER held my attention and captured my imagination. Fast paced without being rushed, Ms. Lester’s descriptions caused me to be drawn into the story as though I truly was a part of it. The mystery aspect of the book is extremely well done, and kept me guessing the whole way until the end. Congratulations to Meera Lester. She has a real hit on her hands with this book. I look forward to following this series for many years to come!
Oh, I love these type of mysteries! This is one of those "cozy" mysteries that I would categorize with Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries which I adore and have read for a long time. This is a wonderful mix of mystery/suspense and a working farm. Wonderful story!
Who is killing the great chef of Las Flores? Former police detective, turned beekeeper, Abby Mackenzie, discovers the body of chef Jean-Louis while attempting to deliver the honey order to the restaurant. Pronounced as a suicide, everyone soon closes their minds to any other suggestion. That is, everyone except Abby and chef's brother Philippe. As Abby has been doing some P.I. work on the side, she is soon hired by Philippe to investigate Jean-Louis's death. As they are spending so much time together, beside investigating, they are cleaning out Jean's home, planning his funeral, among other things, that Abby has to keep reminding herself that this is a business relationship. Full of notes on beekeeping hints from "Henny Penny Farmette Almanac" and several yummy sounding recipes, as well as an intriguing story line makes this book by Meera Lester a very good cozy mystery. FTC Full Disclosure - A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Great New Series! This is a great book; this is the first book in the Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series by Meera Lester. Abigail (Abby) Mackenzie had to leave her job with the police department because of an injury. She is now a farmer, raising chickens, harvesting honey and growing heirloom vegetables. When Abby delivers some honey to the local pastry chef Jean-Louis Bonheur, she finds him dead in his shop. The coroner says it was suicide, but Jean-Louis’s brother believes it was murder, so he hires Abby to find the real killer. If you are looking for a great mystery that will leave you guessing until the end then you need to read this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
A Beeline to Murder by Meera Lester is the first book in A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series. Abigail Mackenzie is thirty-seven years old and is hard at work on her farmette (a small residential farm). She supplements her income by being a private investigator (helping the local DA with cases). Abby also has honey bees and sells honey. Her best customer is Chef Jean-Louis Bonheur and his pastry shop. When Abby arrives to deliver his lavender honey, no one answers. She discovers Chef Jean-Louis dead in the kitchen. It looks like he was strangled. Abby immediately calls the police. Abby was a police officer for seven years until her hand was injured (her thumb is not consistently stable which means she cannot shoot a gun). Her friend, Officer Katerina “Kat” Petrovky is the officer assigned the case (Abby is thankful that Chief Bob Allen did not show up). The preliminary investigation concludes it was suicide. The victim’s brother, Philippe Bonheur does not believe it. He knows that his brother would never kills himself and even had a trip to the Caribbean planned for his birthday. Philippe hires Abby to investigate the crime and prove it was murder. Abby investigates the crime with Philippe’s help in between taking care of her chickens, swarming bees (moving to a new location), handling Sugar (Chef Jean-Louis’ dog), and planting appropriate plants for her bees. Abby can really use the money from the case to help fix up her house (which needs work). Will Abby be able to prove Chef Jean-Louis was murdered? Who wanted Chef Jean-Louis dead? I enjoyed reading A Beeline to Murder. It is a cute cozy mystery with the lovely setting of Las Flores, California. Abby Mackenzie is a likeable main character, but I wish we were given more information about her. The information we are given is given out in little bits throughout the story (which I found frustrating). We are not given a lot of information about the other characters in the book (I do know that Philippe is extremely handsome as it was mentioned several times). I think the characters just need to be fleshed out a little bit (given life). The author provided good clues to the mystery and provided a little twist at the end. I found the person responsible for the crime to be obvious, but that could just be me (I picked out the person responsible not long after the character was introduced). Overall, it is a good first book. I will definitely read the next book in the series. The one thing I did not like was that the crime happened almost immediately at the beginning of the story. I think we needed a little more of an introduction before we get to the dead person. I give A Beeline to Murder 4 out of 5 stars. The books does provide some great tips on taking care of bees, making good honey, and the right type of fauna to plant for bees (makes me wish I was not allergic to them). I received a complimentary copy of A Beeline to Murder from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.
A Beeline to Murder by Meera Lester is the first book in this brand new cozy mystery series. I believe this is her debut book and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Abigail Mackenzie was forced to retire from the Las Flores Police Department due to a hand injury. She invested in a farmette outside of town and is now trying to make a go of it by beekeeping, farming and selling her honey to local businesses. I liked Abby and found her to be a strong, smart and independent woman who didn't give up after "retiring" from the police department. Her best friend, Kat, is still on the police force and their interactions together show just how strong and supportive their friendship is to them. I loved Kat and her attitude toward life and love. In fact, I would love to be friends with both of these women. The characters are fully developed; but I know there is so much more to learn about Abby, Kat and Lucas as this series progresses. The plot moved smoothly and swiftly with enough twists that I didn't know who the "bad guy" was until the reveal. Plus Abby developed two possible love interests in this book which is always (for me) a good reason to come back and visit with Abby in Las Flores when the next book is published. There are also recipes at the end of each chapter, hints on farming and also some educational pointers on beekeeping which I found to be very interesting as I know absolutely nothing about beekeeping. A good murder mystery with a touch of romance makes an engaging and enjoyable afternoon read. I was given an ARC by NetGalley and Kensington Publishing in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are mine alone.