Personable characters and lots of honey lore make for an informative but mundane read.


The Oregon coast replaces Mackinac Island and honey stands in for fudge in Coco’s new cozy series, which sticks to a familiar pattern (Fudge Bites, 2019,etc.).

Together with her Havana brown cat, Everett, Wren Johnson, who’s settled in Oregon to be near her Aunt Eloise, lives above the shop she owns, Let It Bee, which specializes in all things honeybee. During one of the beach walks Everett enjoys on his leash, he alerts Wren to a dead body. Handsome beat cop Jim Hampton arrives on the scene to find her clutching a paper that was in the dead woman’s hand, a label from one of Wren’s lip balms. The woman is Agnes Snow, the wife of ex-mayor Bernie Snow and a fierce crafting rival of Aunt Eloise. Wren becomes a person of interest when the police discover poison in the lip balm. Lawyer Matt Hanson, taking her case pro bono, warns her not to talk to the police in his absence. So instead she talks to everyone else. Although she must watch as her reputation in town is torn to shreds, she still has friends who believe in her, from her sales manager, Porsche, to 911 operator Josie, and of course Aunt Eloise. Despite repeated warnings from Hampton, the three of them chat up the locals, hoping to provoke gossip and elicit possible motives for killing Agnes and framing Wren. They wonder if the cash deposits Agnes was making into her bank account could be blackmail payments that would provide a good motive for murder. When Everett is apparently catnapped, Wren, desperate to find him, ignores warnings that would keep her out of trouble.

Personable characters and lots of honey lore make for an informative but mundane read.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1976-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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