by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy Coco, along with an interesting interview with Nancy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Death Bee Comes Her. This book is a Barnes and Noble exclusive so we do not have an Amazon link for purchasing it. You can however purchase it here.
Death Bee Comes Her: A Oregon Honeycomb Mystery By Nancy Coco
Review by Sandra Murphy
Wren Johnson owns a specialty shop in Oceanview, Oregon. Everything is about bees, from a hive viewing post to lip balms, lotions, candles, cookies, and candies. Wren is eco-friendly and wants customers to enjoy her handmade products but also understand the importance of bees in the world.
It’s Halloween, and the town takes the holiday seriously. For the entire week before, all the shop owners dress up in different costumes every day. Zombies are a favorite. Business is going well until Wren takes an early morning walk to the beach with her cat, Everett. He’s the first to notice the body of a woman. It’s Agnes, a crafting rival for Wren’s aunt and the former mayor’s wife.
Since Wren found the body, she automatically becomes a person of interest, although it’s hard to see what motive she would have. It looks like Agnes was poisoned with a lip balm—and Agnes only used Wren’s honey lip balm. Sales go a definitely odd route when people ask to buy the “poisoned lip balms.” Even for Halloween, it raises the creep factor.
As evidence, real or imagined, piles up, Wren is forced to hire a lawyer. The police execute a search warrant on her store, removing at least a third of her products. When a series of incidents occur and another body shows up, she’s more than a person of interest. She’s a suspect.
This is the first in a new series. Aunt Eloise and Paige, Wren’s helper in the store, are fun, loyal friends. Everett is a talkative, handsome, Havana Brown, a cat breed known to be mischievous but friendly. There are hints at a possible future romance or two for readers to look forward to. Wren is prone to taking huge risks—risks she’s been warned against and should know better than to even think about. If she can get past that in future books, this will be an excellent series.
Interspersed between chapters are recipes for winter paw wax (for Everett), honey taffy candy, strawberry honey lip balm, honey yogurt mousse with lemon curd parfait, a honey face mask, other tips for skin care, and trivia about bees and honey.
Coco also writes the Candy Coated mystery series, nine books centering around fudge.
Interview with Nancy Coco:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Nancy: I’ve been writing since fifth grade when I started my first book. So probably my entire life. I wrote my first complete novel before I turned 21. Years later, I decided to really work at being published. I wrote 17 manuscripts in about 9 years and published my first book in 2002.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called, and can you tell us a little about it?
Nancy: My first book was a sweet historical romance called, Saving Samantha. It was the story of a female journalist in the late 1800’s Wyoming. My first Cozy Mystery was, Gluten for Punishment (Berkley). The book is set in a small Kansas Town today and the protagonist is a gluten free bakery owner.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?
Nancy: I’ve written romances, romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. All my books have some kind of mystery involved-even my romances.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Nancy: I lived in Oregon for nearly two years and loved the coast. I also love bees and thought it would be great to set a series in a quirky coastal town around a bee shop owner.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Nancy: I think entertainment and escaping into other worlds can really help people. So, I write fun stories. Sometimes I explore important issues such as autism, celiac disease, and dwindling bee populations. But mostly I want the reader to have fun.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Nancy: I write every day. When I’m working, I write at night. While on weekends and holidays I write in the morning. I try to stick to a deadline of 1-2,000 words per day.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Nancy: I don’t outline. What I do is keep careful notes. I use the sticky notes app on my laptop.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Nancy: I prefer to write in the morning after two cups of coffee.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Nancy: Yes, actually! It took nine years, 17 full manuscripts (some rewritten several times), five different agents, and a lot of critiques and persistence.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Nancy: I had over 600 rejection letters before rejections came by email. I was stubborn!
KRL: We are glad you didn’t give up! Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Nancy: Sometimes you get asked the strangest things. At my last book signing, I sat between a science fiction writer and a nonfiction writer who was a proctologist. A young man in his 20’s came up and asked if he could ask us a question. We all said yes, of course. Then he proceeded to ask us how much toilet paper should a household of two men need? It seems it was his turn to purchase the toilet paper and he had no idea how much he should buy. Oh, it had to last two weeks. We let the proctologist answer that question because it was more up his alley than the rest of us!
KRL: Future writing goals?
Nancy: I want to continue with my cozy mystery series and perhaps branch out to women’s fiction or bigger mysteries.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Nancy: I have too many to mention. So many wonderful people have helped me, encouraged me, and written works that make me want to keep writing.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Nancy: I love to research everything from Google maps to see what a town looks like or what a corner looks like to what popular restaurants are in the area to folk lore and festivals.
KRL: What do you read?
Nancy: I read everything I can get my hands on from shampoo bottles to newspapers to genre fiction to nonfiction, self-help, poetry and even all the subtitles after a movie. Did you know there are literally thousands of people who help make movies?
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Nancy: British mysteries, Criminal Minds, Prodigal Son, NCIS, thriller movies, mysteries, and rom coms.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Nancy: Keep writing, try new things, experiment, take breaks when you get too discouraged and start again.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Nancy: I am a Veteran and spent 6 years in the US Air Force working on satellite equipment as a tech and engineer. I was the first female in my specialty.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of Death Bee Comes Her, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bee,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 29, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week!
Disclosure: KRL receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.