Monday, June 10, 2013

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

“Beekeeper Albert Honig was finishing breakfast when he heard the bees along the utility wires. Following the agitated noise to his estranged neighbors’ house, he found the Bee Ladies, Claire and Hilda Straussman, bound and dead on the floor and bees swarming down their chimney….
     Telling the Bees is more than nominally a mystery, but [Peggy] Hesketh is also conducting an exploration into a now-vanished southern California world of almond, citrus, and walnut groves, where people knew their neighbors, but politeness meant not disturbing the surface to see the horror underneath.
     After the murders, Albert finds himself haunted by a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: '“The cruelest lies are often told in silence."... And kept in darkness, I should like to add.'
     The investigation is headed up by the highly competent, sardonic Detective Grayson, who musters a startling amount of patience in the face of Albert’s arcane facts about apiaries. More than dithering, Albert uses his tangents to conceal facts about the Straussmans in an effort to protect the reputation of the dead.
     Not having a double murder to solve, this reader couldn’t get enough of the mixture of folklore and science. The title comes from the folk custom of 'telling the bees' when their keeper has died. In a sign of how out of joint the time has become, no one tells the Bee Ladies’ hives that their mistress is gone."
— Yvonne Zip, The Christian Science Monitor
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