All abuzz about murder . . .
Former police officer Abigail Mackenzie has made a fresh start as a beekeeper and farmer in picturesque Las Flores, California—but she never suspected her new hometown would prove to be a hive of criminal activity.
When Abby invites her free-spirited friend, Fiona Mary Ryan, owner of Ancient Wisdom Botanicals, to her farmette for lunch, she never imagines that Fiona’s no-show will lead to a murder investigation.
Only hours after their lunch date, Fiona’s body is found in a burning car in what at first appears to be a tragic accident. But after the coroner’s report is issued, it’s clear she was dead before being placed in the vehicle. Someone has gone to great lengths to cover up a murder. But who—and why?
Driven by her loyalty to her friend, and her deeply ingrained skills as a trained investigator, Abby sorts through suspects—who seem to be sprouting up everywhere. Speculating that Fiona’s herbal business might hold the key to motive, Abby isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to smoke out a killer . . .
Includes farming tips and delicious recipes!
About the Author
Meera Lester is the author of the first Henny Penny mystery, A Beeline to Murder, and nearly two dozen nonfiction books. She is the proprietress of the real Henny Penny Farmette, located in the San Francisco Bay area. While raising chickens and honeybees, she draws on her life with her animals and gardens 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
Speaking of flowers, behold the deadly beauties that hide in plain sight.
— Henny Penny Farmette Almanac
Abigail Mackenzie reached across the lace cloth covering her patio table, lifted a corner of the bread from a bite-size tea sandwich, and grimaced. The bread had dried out, and the lettuce clinging to the mayonnaise had gone as limp as a rag in a wash bucket. If the egg salad filling had gone bad, it would be the final straw. Pretty much everything that could go wrong on this day had.
Heaving a sigh, Abby let go of the bread and sank back into the patio chair. She locked eyes with Katerina Petrovsky, her former partner with the Las Flores Police Department. When Abby left the force to buy and renovate the old farmette, they'd stayed best buddies, and when the situation warranted it, they still had each other's backs.
"Don't say it, Kat."
Ignoring the peeved expression on the face of her blond, blue-eyed friend, Abby stewed in silence. It was the hottest day in April, but for Abby, it had been raining cow patties from heaven. The intimate luncheon for Fiona Mary Ryan, who had wanted to talk to Abby as soon as possible without saying why, had seemed in jeopardy when Abby discovered dead bees at the base of her hives. Worker bees were a tidy bunch; they kept the hives clean and clear of bee corpses. Large numbers of dead bees at the hive entrances had meant Abby would have to open the hives and check them. Several neighbors in rural Las Flores kept bees. It wasn't unheard of for marauding bees to take over a hive, often fighting it out at the entrance. It was something Abby hadn't personally witnessed, but that didn't mean it hadn't happened.
Flinging open the door to the garden shed to retrieve her beekeeper basket containing her suit and smoker, Abby had recoiled at the stench of a dead rodent. Forgoing the rodent problem to assuage her concern about the honeybees, she had spent the next couple of hours smoking the bees and examining the ten frames in each hive. Relieved that there hadn't been a rogue bee invasion, Abby had searched for an increase in mites or anything else that might explain the die-off. Finally, it had dawned on her that farmers within a five-mile radius might have applied insecticide on their fields or chemicals harmful to bees on their garden plants. And folks wonder why the honeybee population has been diminishing. When food prices hit sky high, maybe then everyone will take the issue more seriously and realize how much we need our pollinators.
After disrobing from the beekeeper's suit and pulling off her jeans and T-shirt, Abby had showered the smoke scent from her body and hair. She negotiated a quick wardrobe change into sandals and a seventies-inspired peasant dress. Although she wasn't too crazy for the dress, with its embroidered detail on the bodice, she knew Fiona would love it. She wove her reddish-gold hair into a shoulder-length braid and secured the end with an elastic band. After sliding a chocolate sheet cake into the oven, Abby was setting about making the tea sandwiches when she heard Kat calling from the farmette driveway.
Finally, it seemed that the negative energy of the day had shifted into positive territory. Grateful for an extra pair of hands, Abby tossed a pinafore apron to Kat and put her to work dressing the table with a cloth of ivory lace and matching napkins. They laid out silver serving pieces and arranged the food — egg salad tea sandwiches, bowls of freshly picked strawberries, a rich chocolate sheet cake, and an antique sugar bowl filled with crispy gingersnaps. The tea in the vermeil pot smelled fragrant with leaves of spearmint and lemon balm, lavender buds, calendula flowers, and chamomile — Fiona's favorite. All that remained was for her to show.
Abby chitchatted with Kat — first about the flapper-girl haircut Kat now sported and then about the upcoming county fair and whether or not Abby should enter her honey and jams — and the time passed quickly. But all that talking made Abby thirsty, and she soon realized she'd forgotten to set out the water pitcher and glasses. After hustling back to the kitchen, she rinsed and cut a lemon into thin slices before dropping the slices into the clear glass pitcher and adding water. Glancing at the wall clock on the way back outside with the pitcher and glasses, Abby frowned, pursed her lips, and blew a puff of air. Fiona was over an hour late.
"What do you think's keeping her?" Kat asked.
"Darn if I know." Abby set the pitcher and glasses on the table. She dropped onto a patio chair, leaned back, and surveyed the surroundings.
The backyard ambiance of her farmette created the perfect setting for a tea party. Blossoms and birdsong in the apricot and cherry trees seemed to proliferate. The tall tea roses held aloft large peppermint-striped blooms. The verdant lawn appeared as green as a hay field in spring. Cream-colored flowers dotted the blood orange, tangerine, and lime trees, their scent permeating the backyard with sweet, citrusy fragrance. Quite possibly, her garden had reached its zenith on this very day. Abby secretly smiled at the notion that despite a shaky start, the day had turned so lovely. The garden seemed as pretty as a Monet painting, and the luncheon would be something that she and Fiona and Kat would talk about for a very long time — whenever Fiona managed to show up.
While Kat rambled on about the handsome new hire at the fire station, Abby strained to hear the sound of a car approaching on Farm Hill Road. As it sped past her farmette, Abby's thoughts ticked through plausible reasons for her friend's tardiness. If there had been an accident, surely someone would have called, since Kat routinely chatted up the police dispatcher ladies, and they always seemed to know how to reach her. And if Fiona had fallen ill, she would have answered when Abby phoned the cottage and the botanical shop Fiona owned. Abby quickly abandoned the idea that Fiona had suffered an accident while out searching for herbs, since she no longer hiked much in the mountains after being assaulted by a stranger. And if she did go out alone looking for wild herbs, she always took her cell phone. She hadn't answered that, either. So one glaring possibility remained — Fiona had bailed on their luncheon.
As her concern shifted to irritation, Abby grasped the stand of the patio umbrella and gave it an aggressive twist. With the shade now covering the food and Kat's side of the table, Abby moved over next to her former partner, leaving the spot in the sun for Fiona. Good thing Fiona loved the heat. Eyeing the herb garden from a new vantage point did little to assuage Abby's frustration. And her frustration level was rising by degrees, like the heat of the day. As if mirroring her mood, the drifts of lemon balm, elderflower, skullcap, sage, oregano, motherwort, and other herbs seemed to struggle to stay upright in the partial shade under the late April sun.
Kat finally spoke. "She might be helping somebody. You know what a sucker she is for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with a sob story."
"True," Abby conceded. "She helped me a lot when I dawdled over whether or not to plant the herb garden — you know herbs can take over a place. I do appreciate how she spent hours with me discussing the culinary and medical uses of them. And it was her idea to put in a miniature medieval garden in raised beds, laid out with a Latin cross design. She was the one who found the illustration in an old gardening book." Abby waved her hand toward a cluster of raised beds on the east side of her property. "The garden was pretty this morning. Now it looks wilted."
"Oh well." Kat crossed her legs, repositioning the napkin over her lap.
Abby heaved a sigh. Okay. Not interested. So luncheon tea parties are about delicious food, polite manners, and convivial conversation. Move on. Abby changed the subject. "Fiona told me she'd recommended my honey and herbs to some of the local businesses," said Abby. "Already, Ananda Bhojana, that new vegetarian eatery, and Smooth Your Groove, the smoothie shop run by those commune people, have placed orders. And Fiona is stocking my honey in her Ancient Wisdom Botanicals store on Main. I mean, she gets a lot of traffic from Cineflicks, Twice Around Markdowns, and even the Black Witch."
"You don't say. The Black Witch, the only bar in town and a biker bar, to boot. Bet they don't buy much honey. I mean, how many mixed drinks use honey as an ingredient?" Kat asked. She seemed unimpressed.
"Well, there's the Bee's Knees. It uses gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup." Abby struggled to think of others.
Kat rolled her eyes. "Seriously, Abby. Can you see a biker strutting up to the bar and ordering a Bee's Knees?"
"Point taken," said Abby.
In silence, the two sat staring up into the towering peppertree at the center back of Abby's property line. The tree's lacy green fronds and bracts of newly formed red berries hung in perfect stillness. Now and then a berry dropped into the chicken run.
"You ever grind those peppercorns?" Kat asked.
Abby nodded. "Once. Too much work. You have to clean, toast, and roast them first." Her stomach growled, long and loud.
"Sounds like you're as hungry as I am," said Kat.
Abby pushed a springy forelock of her reddish-gold hair away from her face and cupped a hand over her light eyes to gauge the position of the sun. "Where on God's earth can Fiona be? We could get sunburned out here without hats. Maybe we should move the food inside. Darn it all! Everything was perfect an hour ago."
Kat leaned forward. "My advice, girlfriend, call or text one more time, and if she doesn't answer, we will eat without her."
"If she didn't answer the six previous calls, what makes you think she'll pick up on the seventh?" Abby snapped, even as she tapped Fiona's number on her cell again and listened for one, two ... five rings, with no answer.
"The tea is tepid," Kat said, touching the pot next to the perfusion of orange nasturtiums in a widemouthed jar. "Dried bread, soggy sandwiches, and tea that probably should have been iced to begin with —"
"Oh, Kat, for goodness' sake, please stop grousing."
"Guess the heat and hunger are making a beast of me. I'm losing all sense of civility," said Kat.
"Well, you're not alone. My feathers couldn't be any more ruffled than if I were a hen with an egg stuck in her butt," said Abby.
Kat flicked at a small insect moving on the strap of her blue cotton sundress. The tiny creature spread its wings and flew away.
Abby blew air in exasperation. "It won't hurt you."
"How would I know?" Kat snapped. "There have been two cases of West Nile virus already reported in the county."
"Mosquitoes," scoffed Abby. "West Nile is carried by mosquitoes, not ladybugs."
"Whatever," said Kat. "I don't rehabilitate bugs, like some people." She rolled her eyes at Abby.
They sat in tense silence. Kat shooed the flies.
Abby fumed. After a couple of minutes, she reminded herself that there might be a good reason for Fiona being late. It served no good purpose for her to be locking horns with Kat.
"Sorry to be so testy, Kat," said Abby. "I'm worried and annoyed at the same time. I was in Fiona's shop yesterday and reminded her of our tea luncheon. I can't believe that in only twenty-four hours, she could forget. And ... it's not like her to bail."
"I hear you, girlfriend." Kat used her napkin to wick away the moisture collecting on either side of her nose. "Okay, so here's an earthshaking idea — maybe she's in a funk. You did say she had hit the big four-o, right?"
"Yeah, but that was a week ago, and, anyhow, the forties are the best years of a woman's life."
"According to?" Abby gave her a quizzical look. "Lidia."
"Vittorio?" Kat asked incredulously. "The old lady on Main, with the jewelry store?"
"Yeah, well, Lidia should know. From the looks of her, she's hit the big four-o twice already. Maybe three times."
"Oh, please. Even if she is retirement age, she's still working. And Main Street hasn't exactly attracted a Ralph Lauren Home store, an upscale art gallery, or an artisan chocolate shop. Lidia and her handcrafted jewelry shop are our town's best hope for a bit of class now that the patisserie is gone."
"Suppose you're right about that."
Abby decided to wait five more minutes. Then she and Kat would devour the food and enjoy the rest of the day. Maybe they'd go antiquing. It would be Fiona's loss, and she'd have some explaining to do when they next saw each other.
"Fiona's store is nice in a hippie, Zen kind of way," said Kat. "But it bothers me that it occupies the same space as where the pastry shop used to be. I can't go in there without thinking about Chef Jean-Louis. Her herb-inspired, nutrient-dense, gluten-free, low-salt, low-taste bars made of who knows what can't compare to our late chef's exquisite madeleines." Kat reached for a tea sandwich. She parted the bread and tossed the lettuce onto her plate before taking a bite. Chewing, she said, "I think Fiona's a hippie, living in the wrong era."
Abby stared incredulously at her friend for throwing aside the lettuce. "Seriously, Kat?"
"What?" Kat asked. "Your chickens will eat this, won't they? Even if there's mayo on it?"
Abby shook her head. "Whatever." She reached for the pot and poured herself a cupful of tea. "Fiona sells good stuff. Almost everything is eco-friendly. And she isn't a hippie."
"Well, she dresses like one."
"In fairness, she wears those bohemian circular skirts, because that's the way the other women in the commune dress. You must have seen them. Some work here in town."
"Yeah, I know. I've been up to their compound, if you can call it that. We've had a lot of complaints. The families in those mountains do not like the drumming, chanting, and clapping. They complain of harmoniums droning on endlessly. And they don't like the weekly bonfires. They're afraid that one of these days a spark will ignite the mountain. It's a tinderbox up there, Abby. You know that."
"Maybe in summer ... not right now," Abby said. "I was just up there last week with Fiona, checking on the progress of the commune gardens. From bio-intensive double digging to planting heirloom seeds, she's taught those devotees everything she knows. The gardens are lush and green and thriving. But don't take my word for it. You should go see them. The gate to their property is always open."
Kat stopped chewing long enough to say, "Nah." She wrapped a blond lock of hair behind her ear and pushed back her bangs, as if preparing to lean forward and do some serious damage to the pile of sandwiches. "And you couldn't pay me to live there. As far as I can tell, the place looks like a dumping ground of old buses, RVs, and shacks."
Abby corrected her. "The guru has a nice house."
"Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Kat said.
Abby shrugged. "The gardens produce an abundance of organic vegetables. The commune residents have opened their facility to people who want to view and purchase the produce. They're also selling it along the roadside up there. Fiona told me the gardens are what she loves most about the place."
"If she loves them so much, why isn't she still living there?" Kat poured herself some tea and stirred in some milk.
"She moved into the cottage on Dr. Danbury's estate because she can't stand that guy in charge at the commune." Abby finished drinking her tea. She placed a silver tea strainer over her porcelain teacup, reached for the pot, and poured its lukewarm tea through the strainer into her cup.
"You mean Hayden Marks?" asked Kat.
"He's the one." Stirring a spoonful of rose-infused sugar into her tea, Abby said, "Got himself appointed the successor when the old guru left for India. But according to Fiona, Marks modified his predecessor's teaching to make it more understandable to Westerners, and then he changed how the commune worked, establishing a hierarchy of power, with himself as the supreme authority."
"Yeah, well, we know Mr. Marks," said Kat. "He's the charismatic son of an ex-con, who supposedly found solace in the Good Book and became a preacher."
"Really?" Abby arched a brow. "Fiona never said anything about that. Maybe she didn't know. But she sure couldn't abide that Marks insisted all the devotees call him Baba. It means 'wise old man' or 'father' or something like that. She found him to be the antithesis of a father figure, more like a dictator. For refusing to show proper reverence, she was asked to leave. Imagine that ... for not calling him Baba."
Excerpted from "The Murder of a Queen Bee"
Copyright © 2016 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 my visit with Abby and company in Las Flores and at the Henny Penny Farmette. The mystery was interesting and I learned a lot about different plants both when Abby was talking about Fiona and with Fiona's brother, Jack. I also like the information about bees, honey and life on the farmette. This book was filled with conflicting emotions for Abby, and I felt that the character grew throughout the story. This is a good series and I am looking forward to reading more about Abby and the Henny Penny Farmette.
Dollycas’s Thoughts I am excited to travel back to Las Flores, California for my second visit to the Henny Penny Farmette owned by Abigail Mackenzie. After leaving the police force Abby has become a farmer/beekeeper but she still does private investigations on the side. She is also remodeling her farmhouse as time and money permits. When her friend Fiona fails to show up for lunch at Abby’s farm, first she get a little testy but then she gets worried. Kat, her former partner, was at the farm for lunch too, but she is called away for a car fire, their friend Fiona appears to be the victim. Abby can’t help but get involved. When the investigation leads to a commune outside of town Abby get caught in a very dangerous situation. As if she doesn’t have enough bees in her bonnet her ex boyfriend, Clay has strolled back into town and expects to pick their relationship up right where they off. Bee-leive me she really doesn’t need to deal with this guy especially because she may have feelings for a couple of other men around town. I have become a huge fan of Abigail Mackenzie. She knows everyone on the police force and they really don’t seem to mind too much when she helps them clear their cases. She is very observant and insightful but she sometimes forgets she no longer has a gun to protect herself. Nothing seems to hold her back. Back in the day, she would have been called a “gutsy broad”. Her love life is a bit of a mess but she really in too busy to evaluate that right now. Her growth throughout the story was a pleasure to see. I also am head over heals crazy about her dog. All the other characters are very fleshed out and bee-lievable. Good or bad I had a good grasp of who they were and how they fit seamlessly into the story. Meera Lester writes in a way the makes you almost feel as you are watching the mystery play out on television. Visualization was super easy. I was engaged in the story from the beginning to the end. The mystery was well conceived and there were plenty of suspects. Some of the clues were of the red herring variety but I enjoyed following all the clues very much. The pace was perfect for me. I appreciated the farming tips and recipes that started each chapter as well. In the e-book advance review copy they fell into place a bit clumsily, but I am sure they shine in the print editions. I found The Murder of a Queen Bee to “bee” a first-class mystery, full of interesting characters, tempered with humor and just a little romance. I am really excited to read the next book in this series. A Hive of Homicides hits stores later this month.
Title: Murder of a Queen Bee - Henny Penny Farmette Mystery Book 2 Author: Meera Lester Published: 9-27-2016 Publisher: Kensington Books Pages: 288 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub-Genre: Women Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Crafts & Hobbies; ISBN: 13: 9781617739132 ASIN: B01A4APJ9M Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.25 Stars I received a copy of "Murder of a Queen Bee" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Publisher's Description: All abuzz about murder . . . Former police officer Abigail Mackenzie has made a fresh start as a beekeeper and farmer in picturesque Las Flores, California—but she never suspected her new hometown would prove to be a hive of criminal activity. Former police officer Abigail Mackenzie has made a fresh start as a beekeeper and farmer in picturesque Las Flores, California—but she never suspected her new hometown would prove to be a hive of criminal activity. Only hours after their lunch date, Fiona's body is found in a burning car in what at first appears to be a tragic accident. But after the coroner's report is issued, it's clear she was dead before being placed in the vehicle. Someone has gone to great lengths to cover up a murder. But who—and why? Driven by her loyalty to her friend, and her deeply ingrained skills as a trained investigator, Abby sorts through suspects—who seem to be sprouting up everywhere. Speculating that Fiona's herbal business might hold the key to motive, Abby isn't afraid to get her hands dirty to smoke out a killer . . . Includes farming tips and delicious recipes! Books in the Henny Penny Farmette Mystery Series: 1) A Beeline to Murder 9/29/2015 2) Murder of a Queen Bee 9/27/2016 My Review: Abigail Mackenzie may have retired from the force due to injuries to become a farmer and beekeeper, but she didn't forget her training and abilities to investigate a crime. Which is a good thing when her friend, Fiona Ryan, is found dead in her burned out car and it is ruled a suicide. With the help of her friend and former partner Katerina and Fiona's brother Jack they begin investigating. When her ex-boyfriend shows up wanting to take up lie he never walked out the door Abigale's plate is full to over flowing. This is a fast paced mystery with some unusual characters that are likable and believable. I found the plot to be well planned and interesting. A perfect cozy mystery to enjoy and share. My complaint is that it seems whatever passes for a police in her town is lazy and incompetent. This is the second murder that was labeled a suicide. Perhaps Abigail needs to add another hat to her repertoire, Chief of Police and fire the lot. My rating for "Murder of a Queen Bee" is 4.25 out of 5 stars.
This is the second Henny Penny Farmette Mystery and I enjoyed it as much as the first one.. Abigail (Abby) Mackenzie left her former job as a police officer after an injuray and made a fresh start for herself as a beekeeper and farmer in Las Flores, California. As busy as Abby is running her business, she seems to get drawn into the investigations of crime in the town. It could be that best friend and former partner Kat gives her too much information, but whatever it is she is neck deep in the murder investigation of her friend Fiona. Hours after Fiona was a no show to the scheduled lunch with Abby and Kat, her body is found in a burned out car in what looks to have been a horrific accident. But what the medical examiner finds is a bit shocking, it was obvious that Fiona had already been dead before the fire, Abby is immediately drawn into the investigation out of loyalty to her friend. She also has a bit of guilt as Kat had called her rather anxious to talk about something bothering her, and Abby had scheduled the lunch instead of meeting with her right away. The mystery was not hard to figure out, but the story was more about Abby, her life and what she was going through. Her old live-in boyfriend arrives back in town wanting to pick up the pieces, Fiona's brother Jack seems to have feelings for Abby that she reciprocates, the commune is becoming more cult-like, and Kat is looking for romance in Abby's neighbourhood. All that adds to the story to give the characters more substance. There is a little bit of a teaser about some commune members who disappeared so I do not know if that will be explored in the next book or not. Overall a satisfying read. My one complaint was the length of the sections at the end of each chapter. Some were rather long and broke up the story just a little too much, I actually stopped reading them. I enjoyed the recipes and the short bits from the Henny Penny Almanc that began the chapters though. If you are looking for a whodunit where the culprit is hard to figure out, this would not be the book for you, but if you are looking for a light mystery with some fun characters and a rather quaint setting, check this one out. The publisher provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Meera Lester has written many non fiction books. So glad that she has now written this cozy series. Bees=honey=recipes=cozy mystery=Henny Penny Farmette Series. Abby, who happens to be an ex-cop is doing well on her small farm. She as a few chickens and Houdini, who is 1 rowdy rooster. Abby is also working on her small gardens to plant vegetables, herbs, flowers, and of course her bee hives. What would a cozy be without a murder? It's nice to have a sexy investigator around to catch the bad guy. 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.
Murder of a Queen Bee by Meera Lester is the second book in A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series. Abigail Mackenzie runs a farmette in Las Flores, California. Abigail had received a call from Fiona Mary Ryan, who runs Ancient Wisdom Botanicals store, about wanting to talk. Abigail sets up a nice luncheon for them to enjoy, but Fiona Mary fails to show up (and does not answer her phone). Fiona Mary is later found dead in her burning car. What did she want to tell Abigail? Abigail cannot help but do a little investigating especially after she finds out that Fiona Mary was murdered. Fiona Mary led an interesting life. She used to live in a commune until she was asked to leave. Fiona Mary did not agree with some of the new practices set in place by Hayden Marks, the new guru. Is there more to the commune than meets the eye? Abigail is surprised when Clay Calhoun shows up at her house after leaving a year ago. Clay is Abigail’s former boyfriend. Why has Clay shown up now? Is there hope for a reconciliation? Join Abigail on her latest adventure in Murder of a Queen Bee. Murder of a Queen Bee is a cute story, but it was lacking in the mystery department. Meera Lester has a conversational writing style that makes for an easy to read novel (though she can get a little too descriptive at times). Unfortunately, there was too much focus on Clay Calhoun. Besides his good looks, I do not know what Abigail saw in him (he lacks substance). Personally, I would not even have let him in my house (and he was not needed in the book). We get quite a bit of information on herbs in the book (actually too much information). It was interesting, but I wanted more substance in the story. I found the killer to be very obvious (no clues needed). I kept hoping there would be a twist or something unexpected, but I was disappointed. It was more about finding the evidence needed to convict the killer (especially during the second half of the book). One annoying thing is the tips at the beginning of each chapter. Most of them are not helpful or interesting. To me they just interrupted my reading pleasure. There are also recipes at the end of each chapter. I would prefer they were at the end of the book. Kat is supposed to be Abigail’s best friend, but she comes across more as a source of information. When Abigail needs information to help her investigation, she calls Kat (even though she knows Kat is not supposed to give out the information). This is the second book in the series, but it can be read alone. I give Murder of a Queen Bee 3 out of 5 stars. It was okay, but not for me. The idea or premise is good for a cozy mystery, but this author just did not make it work.
Abigail Mackenzie, former police officer, is running a farm and beekeeping business in Las Flores, California. When she invites her friend, Fiona, to lunch, she never expects the reason why she’s late: Fiona was murdered. Her body was found in a burned-out car and she was poisoned. Driven by Fiona’s friendship, Abby uses her investigative skills to ferret out the truth. This was a very interesting mystery. Abby’s character was likable and she seemed to have great analytical skills, but I feel her romantic problems somehow took precedence over the mystery. I also felt the ending was a bit rushed. Abby’s discussion with the police chief towards the end of the story seems strange because he accepted everything she said and didn’t have his own opinion. The way the main culprit was caught was a letdown. It may have been symbolic, but it wasn’t satisfying. The story lagged due to an abundance of description. When the author described a scene, she seems to explain even the color of the grass. The story was very good, but the execution was lacking. An Advanced Reading Copy was received in exchange for an honest review.
This is a great book; this is the second book in the Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series written by Meera Lester. Abigail Mackenzie is a former police officer who is making a fresh start as a beekeeper and farmer in picturesque Las Flores, California but she never suspected her new hometown would prove to be a hive of criminal activity. When Abby invites her free-spirited friend, Fiona Mary Ryan, owner of Ancient Wisdom Botanicals, to her farmette for lunch, she never imagines that Fiona’s no-show will lead to a murder investigation. Only hours after their lunch date, Fiona’s body is found in a burning car in what at first appears to be a tragic accident. But after the coroner’s report is issued, it’s clear she was dead before being placed in the vehicle. Driven by her loyalty to her friend, and her deeply ingrained skills as a trained investigator, Abby sorts through suspects who seem to be sprouting up everywhere. This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. If you are looking for a great book, then you need to read this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. 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.
The Murder Of A Queen Bee is the second book in the Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series. I love this new series by Meera Lester. I enjoy reading books that provide the reader with a very interesting mystery and gives me a chance to learn something new about gardening and other aspects of farming. This series fills the bill, each chapter has a quote from the Henny Penny Farmette dealing with either some aspect of gardening or beekeeping. Abigail Mackenzie, having been injured in the line-of-duty with the Las Flores PD, has left the police department and has gotten a little farm where she raises vegetables and bees. She has settled in well to her farming activities and is enjoying her new life. When her friend, Fiona Ryan is found dead in her car, the police consider it a case of suicide, but Abby and her former partner on the police force, Katerina, don’t share that view. As Abby begins to look into Fiona’s death she is drawn to commune outside of town, where there is a possibility of drug dealing being done there. Also helping Abby is Jack Sullivan, Fiona’s brother. In addition to having to deal with her farmette and the investigation, Abby also has to deal with the reappearance of Clay Calhoun, her former boyfriend who see,s to think that they can just pick up where they were. A wonderful new series with an entertaining cast of characters. Recipes are also included in the book. Will be watching for the next book in this series.