Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by David Boito

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 2023
ISBN: 9798215437209
Publisher: Ideafeast Books

In Boito’s novel, a scientist and a cop team up to investigate an unusual bee-related death that turns out to be connected to a much larger scheme.

Special Agent Kelso Bagley is an entomologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who’s recently been disciplined for his unorthodox arrest of an Arizona butterfly thief. Det. John Alan “Duke” Wayne is a middle-aged Los Angeles police detective on administrative leave after stepping out of a bar and pursuing a criminal in a high-speed chase. Kelso’s fastidious and naïve, and Duke’s flighty and worldly. They get called to a scene where Howard Skulberry, a UCLA entomologist, died after honeybees stung him hundreds of times. Duke’s just happy to be out in the field again, even if this death is obviously accidental. Kelso, however, suspects foul play, and he’s right: It’s connected to villainous Sage Chemical CEO Gordon Lund’s diabolical plan. A missing piece of technology holds the key to his scheme, and as Lund’s henchman Albert Fossil tries to track it down, he leaves bodies in his wake. Meanwhile, more angry bees are loosed upon the city. In cinematic fashion, Boito adds helicopter battles, a pit of squirming deadly insects, and many, many more agitated bees, which throw the city into panic. When the going gets rough, will Kelso and Duke have learned enough from each other to save the day? This thriller’s narrative is not especially deep, but neither is a bee sting, and both are certainly efficient and effective. Boito’s writing is quick and agile throughout, and Kelso’s object lessons in using nature to solve nature’s problems creates moments that are both comical and moving, as when he uses his expertise to solve a problem that Duke’s 31-year-old daughter, Beryl, is having with her rose bushes: “Kelso, just because I’m interested in what you do doesn’t mean I share your enthusiasm for flies,” Beryl says, before grinning broadly at his solution. The author conjures up a fine supporting cast, as well, including bee venom cosmetologist Alora Maxwell, an indecisive mayor, and a police detective who’s grateful that Kelso stopped him from eating even more bug-infested cereal.

A seriously fun ecoterrorism thriller.