Music of Bees a pleasant buzz with no sting

May 5, 2021 | Terri Schlichenmeyer
Music of Bees a pleasant buzz with no sting

An Oregon spring always put Alice Holtzman in a good mood.

Not only was the weather better but this year, there was so much to look forward to: her beehives from last year were healthy enough to split, and another dozen new one were planned. By this time next year, Alice thought she might have 150 hives, and the extra money would be nice.

Life was good for the 44-year-old - at least most of the time, even if she couldn't bear to think about the past.

And then she almost ran over Jake Stevenson, a 18-year-old in a wheelchair, for whom there were many times when he thought about what might have been. What if he'd been a better student? Or if he'd fought harder for the scholarship his father had cruelly denied him? What if he hadn't been horsing around at that party and fell, broke his back, and ended up a paraplegic? What if he hadn't lost his dog or had better parents?

And then, what if Alice Holtzman hadn't almost run him over? Jake would never have left home then, never would have met Alice's bees, never would have discovered beekeeping.

As for Harry Stokes, when he read the help-wanted ad for a beekeeper's handyman, it seemed like a job he could do. He was good with tools and knew how to fix things, so he applied, hoping that the employer wouldn't ask about his past. He'd surely never volunteer that he'd spent time in prison.

Now, with two new employees, a pending promotion at her day job, and a beekeeping business that was humming, the future again looked bright for Alice.

And then a killer moved into the area and the bees started to die...

Reading The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin is like coming home from work, putting on your slippers, and claiming your favorite chair: it's comfortable. It doesn't make waves or raise your heart rate, and it won't make you emotional. Garvin infuses a bit of social commentary, but it fits with the story in a non-rabble-rousing way.

Sweet: that's this book, with no big sting to make you want to run. There's a minor bit of profanity, nothing you haven't heard before; the plot is believable; and Garvin's writing is smooth, like a refreshing green glade with cool, soft grass. Bonus: if you knew nothing about bees before, you will when you're done.

Start The Music of Bees. You can't help but like it. In fact, this is a book you won't mind sharing. Recommend it to your book group, and watch the buzz grow. Or pass it to the next reader who enjoys soft drama. As in the novel, both givers and recipients can benefit.

THE MUSIC OF BEES: A NOVEL
EILEEN GARVIN
2021 Dutton
$26.00 / $35.00 Canada
336 pages