Buzz Off by Hannah Reed is the first book in the new “Queen Bee” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), September 2010

When beekeeper Story Fischer is on the case, you can run—but you can’t hive.

It’s September—National Honey Month—in Moraine, Wisconsin, and things are looking up for Story Fischer. Her messy divorce is final, the honey from her beekeeping business has been harvested, and the market she owns is thriving. Life seems pretty sweet…until Manny, her mentor in the honey business, is found stung to death in his apiary.

Story is still trying to explain to the panicked locals that her honeybees had nothing to do with Manny’s death, when another body is found floating in the Oconomowoc River. This time the evidence points to Story’s ex. Sure, he’s a womanizer and a buzzkill—but a murderer? Desperate to save her bees and her business (and, okay, her ex), it’s up to Story to find a way out of a very sticky situation.

This is a good debut mystery. Melissa Fischer, Story to her friends, learns that her mentor and friend was found dead covered in honey with assumption that his death was caused by his bees. Story is adamant that the bees did not kill her friend and sets out to prove that it was yellow jackets. When another body is found dead in Story’s kayak, her ex is jailed, and Story is convinced that both deaths are connected. With a hostile police chief, Story looks for clues to solve the murder of her friend. This honey of a story has a good plot, a mystery that kept me guessing and a host of great characters. This was a delightful read. My rating: 4 stars

Hannah Reed is the pseudonym of Deb Baker.

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