Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
In Moraine, Wisconsin Story Fischer feels pretty good that her divorce from her cheating husband Clay is finalized. The owner of the Wild Clover grocery, she celebrates her new single life sharing champagne with her customers and a special one day sale of all goods. However, her idyllic day ends when her beekeeping mentor Manny Chapman, owner of the Queen bee Honey, dies from a swarm of yellow jackets.
The townsfolk and Manny’s wife Grace assume his honey bees killed him. They want his bees and that of Story’s out of the county before someone else is hurt. Story refuses as she wants to go into the homey making business. Grace sells Manny’s hive to Gerald Smith who is nowhere to be found. Hunter Wallace, who is interested in Story, accompanies her on a ride looking for her raft. When she looks inside she sees the murdered body of her former husband’s girlfriend. Clay is arrested, but Story believes the rat is not a killer and the two deaths are linked. Searching for Manny’s hives, Story begins to put the puzzle together while the killer watches her do so waiting for the right moment to strike again.
Buzz Off is a sparkling debut that enables the reader to see the down side of small town living when something bad happens as the insular population reacts in what seems a genuine cause and effect. Story is spunky as she tries new things especially to earn a better lifestyle yet careful not to alienate her eccentric neighbors. Readers will enjoy a taste of honey as Hannah Reed provides a delicious amateur sleuth mystery.