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.