In this middle-grade series detective story, Jake Wheeler investigates mysteriously colored local honey as his detective grandfather looks into who stole some beehives.
At the beginning of his summer vacation, young Jake had to accompany his Granny on a cruise because his grandfather—“a world-renowned detective”—was busy on a case, which Jake later helped him solve. Now summer’s almost over, and this time, Jake’s mother makes him leave Montréal for southern Alberta, where Granny is looking after her vacationing sister Peggy’s farm. Grandpa is again called away to work, and Granny can’t maintain the farm alone. As before, Jake is joined by his snooty cousin Millie from England, who likes to be addressed as “Lady Millie.” While milking goats, verbally sparring with Millie, avoiding the bullying Kreft brothers, and attending a design camp, Jake works on finding the solution to a local mystery: Something is turning the honey in beekeepers’ hives bright shades of blue, red, and green. Meanwhile, Grandpa is investigating his own honey-related mystery, involving the theft of beehives from California almond groves. With tips from Grandpa, help from Millie, his own detective work, and a few lucky breaks, Jake solves the colored-honey conundrum—and learns some important family history. Malmqvist (The Great Mediterranean Cheese Heist, 2018) structures this story in a fun way by paralleling the protagonist’s and his grandfather’s stories; Jake’s puzzle is appropriately kid-sized, while Grandpa’s beehive heist plot involves a wide area and big money. Although coincidence still plays a role in this story, Jake does more actual investigating than he did in the last book. Jake’s voice is believable, but Granny’s harsh treatment of him—played for laughs—really isn’t funny; she often scolds, accuses, and disbelieves him. Grandpa, on the phone, doesn’t help and just chuckles whenever Jake complains. Nothing in Granny’s past or Jake’s behavior warrants this—he’s just a decent, polite kid with a curious streak.
A tale with an original puzzle and setting, although its hero deserves better treatment from his family.