A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest


Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister sites Kings River Lite and KRL News & Reviews for bonus articles.

Previous post:

Next post:


A Hive of Homicides By Meera Lester: Review/Giveaway

IN THE October 14 ISSUE

FROM THE 2017 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Cynthia Chow
& Meera Lester

This week we have another Halloween related mystery, A Hive of Homicides by Meera Lester, and we also have a Halloween related guest post from Meera. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of A Hive of Homicides, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

A Hive of Homicides: A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery by Meera Lester
Review by Cynthia Chow

Getting stung on the face by one of her bees was the first sign for Abby Mackenzie that Paola Varela and Jake Winston’s vow-renewal ceremony wouldn’t end well. The second sign was actually being leered at and hit upon by the groom. Abby had kept her mouth shut about her reservations concerning her friend’s marriage, but Paola was adamant that Jake had mended his ways and the ceremony was testament to his commitment. Sadly, Jake soon has the opportunity to prove that he will indeed love, honor, and cherish Paola until death. During the vow-renewal party at Jake’s Country Schoolhouse Winery, Abby discovers the couple in their car, where one bullet has gone through to make two victims.

bookAs Paola remains in a coma and Jake goes to the morgue, Abby copes with the guilt over not stepping in to stop the wedding in the first place. When added to her previous tragedies, even her experience as a former police officer doesn’t make Abby immune to the trauma culminating into overwhelming bouts of depression and anxiety. Police Chief Bob Allen has made it aggressively clear that he doesn’t appreciate Abby’s input in his cases, and the new Lieutenant Sinclair welcomes her even less. When Abby’s best friend and former police partner lets her know that they are circling in on Paola’s brother as a suspect, Abby breaks out her own incident board to investigate who was the intended victim, who was the woman who interrupted the church, and what exactly was going on in the winery kitchen.

Even as Abby expands her Henny Penny Farmette and its production of organic honeys, jams, and jellies, she delves into the unexpected fallout of being involved in murder investigations. The uncooperative investigating officers taunt and provoke her while Abby experiences paralyzing flashbacks from past losses. The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday brings together Paola’s family, only increasing the pressure on Abby to find some resolution for them and herself.

This third in the series never shies away from exploring darker issues, yet still entertains with its witty characters and engaging dialogue. Bee and farmette facts continue to be sprinkled throughout, as are critical details of an investigation. A genuinely terrifying and explosive finale surpasses that seen in cozier novels, with the threats feeling all too real. Readers who enjoy the small-town mysteries with a darker edge will be thoroughly entertained by the complex layers of this delightful novel.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Meera Lester on Resilience

My newest novel, A Hive of Homicides, opens in a church parking lot days before Halloween. I chose that holiday for a reason—in the land of my grandmother’s Scots-Irish lineage, the festival in ancient times was known as Samhain and often brought surprises, not always of a good kind, an idea that finds resonance in my novel. All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween was a time of witches and warlocks walking about and souls of the dead roaming until midnight. Even today, some Scots carve lanterns from turnips as they did in the times of the Celts and set out a plate of food and an empty chair just in case a lost soul drops by.

My novel’s protagonist Abigail Mackenzie is an ex-cop with a gentle soul and a sixth sense she inherited from her grandmother Rose. Rose’s bits of wisdom are sprinkled throughout A Hive of Homicides via Abby’s thoughts and recollections, usually during a moment of crisis or confusion or surprise. Like Abby, I lived with my grandparents during a formative period in my life. On my grandparent’s Missouri farm, I developed a lens for looking at nature as intrinsically connected to my being. My maturity brought with it the ability to value my life through that narrative of recollection, a sense of pride for my heritage as a fifth generation farmer. In times of distress, I find peace walking a field, working in my garden, or gazing up into the canopy of trees to watch the birds just as Abby does. And I’ve imbued her character with something I deeply value—resilience.

author

Meera Lester

Fragility and resilience are points on a spectrum that all humans experience at some stage of their lives. In college, I wanted to become a doctor but lacked funds, support, and grades. Disappointed, but determined to help others, I studied to become a respiratory therapist, passing California’s state exam. In my twenties and thirties, I worked in several large metropolitan hospitals. Whether working in an ER, ICU, or emergency room, or transporting patients on an ambulance or helicopter transport as part of a critical care team, or standing in silence with prayer in my heart for someone who had just passed away, the work revealed to me both the fragility and resilience of humanity. Those experiences, too, inform my life and that of Abby and other characters that populate my novels.

Resilience is a beautiful quality possessed by farmers throughout the world. I saw it in my grandparents. During my travels in the world, I witnessed resilience in farmers facing famine in Gujarat (India) and those struggling to survive in Mexico, Europe, and the British Isles. It took a while but I, after a period of feeling fragile, found resilience after my husband died following a heart transplant at age 46. In A Hive of Homicides, Abby also struggles with an unseen enemy. She understands that to conquer this foe will restore her to wholeness and enable her to be resilient in the face of adversity.

Today, on my farmette situated a few miles from the California Delta, I grow heirloom varieties of plants and care for a small orchard of fruit trees. I’ve remarried, and with the help of my second husband, a Caribbean-born architect-designer, I keep chickens and bees and a cat named Sophia. I’ve recreated the gardens of my past, eat the organic foods I grow, and have nature all around me. The ancient Celts from whom my grandmother’s ancestors descended respected the Divine as manifested in nature, the “mother” of us all. She challenges and surprises and not always in a good way. Still, this life of farming connects with some ancient longing within me to live close to the earth, in step with the seasons. Come Halloween this year, I’ll forgo the carving of turnips. Instead, I’ll plate up some treats and fashion some pumpkins into lanterns for any lost souls out roaming around.

To enter to win a copy of A Hive of Homicides, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “hive,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 21, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

For more information about Meera Lester, check out her author website and the real Henny Penny Farmette website and check out her author’s page on Amazon.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karina ThibodeauNo Gravatar
Twitter: @ThibodeauKarina
October 14, 2017 at 8:34pm

Thank you for the chance. Sounds like a good book.

Reply

2 Pam PriborskyNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 9:18am

I’d love to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

Reply

3 Gloria BrowningNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 9:22am

Hives make me flinch a bit, but I would like to read this.

Reply

4 KaraNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 1:22pm

Sounds like a great book–I’d love to read it!

Reply

5 KaraNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 1:23pm

Forgot my email–it’s legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com. Thanks!

Reply

6 Nancy SchwenknerNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 2:35pm

This sounds like a fun read for this time of year. Thanks for the chance to win A Hive of Homicides.

Reply

7 Jennifer HansenNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 2:37pm

Cute title! parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com

Reply

8 CarlNo Gravatar October 15, 2017 at 3:39pm

This sounds like a good blend of serious sleuthing and lightheartedness, I think we’d enjoy it a lot. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

Reply

9 MarilynNo Gravatar
Twitter: @MarilynWatson18
October 16, 2017 at 12:16am

I agree with you fragility and resilience we all go through it. Sounds like a good book Thank you for the chance.
Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

Reply

10 Dianne BNo Gravatar October 16, 2017 at 3:03am

What a great title and review. Looking forward to reading.

Reply

11 Dianne CaseyNo Gravatar October 16, 2017 at 2:23pm

This is a new author and series to me. Enjoyed the description of the book. Would like to read.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Reply

12 Kay Garrett2No Gravatar
Twitter: @arkieclown
October 16, 2017 at 7:34pm

Thank you for the review on A Hive of Homicides. I would love to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy! I took the liberty of sharing but would so love to be the fortunate one selected. :)

Reply

13 peggy claytonNo Gravatar October 16, 2017 at 7:40pm

This is a new author for me and at my age finding a new author is so good would love to read and post reviews for the author.ptclayton2@aol.com

Reply

14 Doward WilsonNo Gravatar October 16, 2017 at 7:49pm

Thanks for introducing me to this author & series.

Reply

15 Judy WeaverNo Gravatar October 18, 2017 at 6:40am

Sounds like a good read! jawdance@yahoo.com

Reply

16 LorieNo Gravatar
Twitter: @mysteryrat
October 23, 2017 at 11:31am

We have a winner!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales