Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Such an odd mixture of murder mystery, quiet ruminations on a personal history and arcana on beekeeping. The problem is that the last part overwhelms the first two, detracting from what could at times be a Marilynne Robinson-esque book.
The mystery is essentially obscured by the author; Claire and Hilda, aka "The Bee Ladies" are found by Albert, their neighbor, bound, gagged and asphyxiated in their home. While close at one time, there was a falling out and haven't spoken in over 15 years. The detective in charge of the inquiry asks Albert for his help, but this taciturn man spends more time talking about the bees than about his neighbors. There are trips down memory lane, recounting the history of the neighbor's relationship, that could be promising and yet, because of all the bee talk are too obscured. The big twist over who the killer was is telegraphed if readers can separate story from bees.
In her forward, the author mentions becoming interesting in the topic of bees when she "borrows" a book from her local library (she never returns the book) and Telling the Bees is clearly an excuse to share that interest. Less would have been more.
ARC provided by publisher.