I have read the 39th book for the book challenge. It was Death By A Honey Bee by Abigail Keam.
Mrs. Josiah Reynolds, widow of architect Brannon Reynolds of Butterfly House of Lexington, Kentucky, is a beekeeper. She goes out to her hives one morning only to find a horrible scene. There is fellow beekeeper Richard Pidgeon dead, face down in one of her hives, stung by hundreds of her bees. What was he doing on her land? And why would her bees have stung him? He was a “bee charmer.” Bees loved him. They didn’t sting Richard. Was he fooling with Josiah’s hives and had a heart attack and fell into the have? Josiah calls the police, but of course, she is the prime suspect. The has been no love lost between Richard and Josiah. They have been enemies at the Farmers’ Market for years. Both are sellers of honey and have been in a shoving match with each other.
The police interview Josiah at her home, and then bring her into the police station for questioning. Her daughter arranges for a lawyer to help her and Josiah’s lawyer friend Matt also is present during questioning. The investigator O’nan is truly obnoxious and believes that Josiah killed Richard Pidgeon but has no evidence. The other office, Goetz, is easier to deal with. They let Josiah go. She goes to the Farmers’ Market to sell her honey and to talk to some of the other vendors to learn what they think about the situation. Goetz comes to talk to her and plants a listening device under her table at the Farmers’ Market, which Josiah finds right away. She becomes quite angry.
Josiah learns that Richard was married previously to a woman named Agnes. Josiah goes to see her and tries to learn about her. She learns that Agnes is still in love with Richard and has always loved him. So she rules out Agnes as having killed him. Agnes now has cancer and is leaving her estate to Richard’s child of his second marriage. Josiah now turns sights on his second marriage. She knows Richard had a temper and was abusive. He was accused of hitting his wife Tellie. She doesn’t know if he also abused his daughter Taffy. His wife is a nurse at the hospital. Supposedly she was working at the hospital the morning he was found dead in the hive. Josiah believes that someone covered for Tellie and that she drove Richard to Josiah’s hives. There she jabbed him with a dose of an adrenaline and then the bee stings covered up the injection site and it looked like bee stings and a heart attack that killed him. She received $750,000 from a life insurance policy and her freedom from his abuse. But Josiah needs to prove this.
Josiah thinks O’nan is familiar to her. She looks through her old school records from her teaching days at the University of Kentucky when she taught art history. She comes across records of a scandal where she had caught baseball players cheating. O’nan was one of the baseball players in her class. She had turned him in. There was a possibility that he would lose his scholarship. She tells her lawyer about this incident and the incident of the bug. O’nan is removed from the case and eventually the death is rule as a heart attack and the case against Josiah is dropped. But Josiah is worried that the case may be reopened at some point and keeps her lawyer on retainer and she keeps investigating.
Taffy and her friend Nancy and Josiah and Matt are at a Halloween party at a mansion in Lexington. There is animosity between the two couples. Matt and Josiah leave the party and are driving home when a car tries to run them off the road. The car rams them from behind and then on the side. It succeeds in making them crash and totals Josiah’s car. They are sure it is either Taffy and Nancy or Tellie.
Josiah begins collecting the garbage bags from Tellie’s house and looks for anything incriminating in it. Eventually her diligence pays off. She finds the receipt for the insurance pay-off of $750,000. Josiah goes to the memorial for Richard with the other people from the Farmers’ Market and sees Tellie, Taffy, and Nancy.
Then Taffy and Nancy go too far and attack Josiah in her home. They pour gasoline around her home. Josiah sees them and calls the police. They have duct tape with them. The police take them into custody and charge them with attempted murder. Nancy gets out on bond but Taffy is still in jail. Josiah goes to see her and has a long talk with her. She learns that Richard abused Tellie but not Taffy.
Tellie eventually bonds Taffy out. Josiah goes to see Tellie as Tellie is leaving town. Tellie confesses everything to Josiah and Josiah tapes her confession. She lets Tellie and Taffy go to start life in another town. But the nightmare isn’t over. There is still O’nan to deal with. He has not forgotten what Josiah did to him years ago and just recently. And he plans to take his revenge.
This was a book with two layers of mysteries. There was the mystery of how Richard Pidgeon actually died. Then there was the problem of O’nan and his revenge. In fact, you tended to forget about him until he shows up again suddenly and ferociously. He is quite vicious. And you feel terrified for Josiah and what she is going through. It is really a horror story, rather than a mystery story. But it is a good way to build suspense. It is a good ending to the book.