The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .
It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.
As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad.
She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation…
SERIES: Down South Cafe Mystery #3
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
RELEASE DATE: December 5, 2017
Other Books In This Series
“Like a good stew, the plot thickens.”
I can’t say enough how much I love this cozy mystery series. In fact, the Down South Cafe books are one of my go-to series in this genre. They are clean, entertaining, well-plotted and full of yummy food.
All the fave characters return to the Down South Cafe in Honey-Baked Homicide, plus a few new faces for flavor. Aunt Bess continues to be my favorite, with her feisty personality and her hilarious pinterest boarding. Her Lord Have Mercy and People I’ve Outlived boards are good examples of the humor potential here, and Leeson makes full use of it without it being overdone. Aunt Bess doesn’t take over the story – she just shows up when they need some spice 😛 For that matter, Dilly (and her hearing-aid eavesdropping skills plus her raccoon) and Homer (and his hero of the day complete with always situation-appropriate quotes) add their own dose of humor and heart when needed as well. Never too much of these good characters, but just enough to keep us smiling – and waiting to see what they’ll do when they next pop in.
Amy is the perfect cozy mystery heroine because she’s completely relatable and doesn’t go asking for trouble (too much). Most of her investigating/snooping occurs while just chatting up guests at the cafe… or fielding suspects as they insert themselves into her life. It makes sense, it feels natural, and it keeps the peace in her romance with her detective boyfriend Ryan. Who, for his part, is protective without being hovering and really seems to value her input instead of begrudgingly tolerating her theories (as cozy mystery detective boyfriends seem to often do).
The case in Honey-Baked Homicide has lots of twists and turns and more suspects around every bend. I had my eye on a couple of strong possibilities as far as whodunit …. and I was completely wrong. Which is a testament to Ms. Leeson’s mystery-crafting skills because I grew up watching Murder She Wrote, y’all.
Bottom Line: If you haven’t yet started reading the Down South Cafe mysteries, you are missing out on some good reads. Each book can stand on its own, but I love the series so much I’d recommend you just go ahead and start at the beginning. The setting nicely supports the plot, and the supporting characters are both quirky and endearing. Amy’s relationship with her family is sweet and healthy, and there’s such a great mix of wit and suspense wrapped up in a cozy package. A great choice anytime you want an entertaining, clean, and well-written read with fun characters you’ll want as friends! (The recipes at the back are a nice bonus, too!)
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / Love it!
We were on our way back home when we saw an old pickup truck speeding in the direction of Landon’s Farm. In fact, it appeared to be Mr. Landon’s truck, but neither Ryan nor I could see well enough in the dark to determine if it was.
Ryan drove until there was a wide enough space on the shoulder of the road to pull over. Then he took out his cell phone and called the police station.
“Hi, it’s Ryan. I’m out on Route 11 just outside of Winter Garden. What appeared to be an antique Chevy truck just passed me going in the opposite direction. The vehicle is speeding, and I’d like for you to alert the officer on call—maybe contact the county dispatch as well.”
He ended the call and placed the phone back in the car’s center console.
“I’d hate for Mr. Landon to get a speeding ticket,” I said.
“We’re not sure that was Mr. Landon . . . or even if that was his truck. If it was, whoever was driving it took the expression drive it like you stole it to heart and deserves a ticket.”
“I hadn’t thought of that—that it could be his truck but not him driving. Maybe someone did steal Mr. Landon’s truck. How awful.”
Ryan picked up my hand and kissed it. “We don’t know anything for sure right now. Given what we know about Mr. Landon, I doubt that was him or his truck.”
“But we don’t know for sure. There could be something wrong. Let’s turn around and drive out to Mr. Landon’s place to see if we can help.”
“We can’t. I’m off duty, and we’ve already sent help his way. If anything’s wrong, the police will get Mr. Landon the help he needs.”
“I hope so,” I said. “I’ve got a really bad feeling about this. I can’t imagine Mr. Landon ever speeding down the road like that.”
“Would it make you feel better to call the man?”
“No. He might think I was crazy to call him at this time of night to ask him if he was speeding down the road. And like you said, it probably wasn’t him . . . or his truck.”
When I arrived at the café the next morning, I was surprised to see Stu Landon’s truck haphazardly parked at the far right corner of the lot. I took my usual spot in the parking space farthest away from the front door to the left of the building. Gathering my keys and purse and stepping out of the car, I could see Mr. Landon sitting in the driver’s seat of his truck. I gave him a smile and a wave, wishing he’d have let me know he’d planned on being here this early so I wouldn’t have kept him waiting.
He didn’t wave back, and I wondered if he was angry. Or maybe he hadn’t seen me. Then again, he could simply be preoccupied.
I unlocked the door, put my purse under the counter, and waited for Mr. Landon to bring in the honey I’d requested yesterday. When he hadn’t come inside after a couple of minutes, I went to check on him. Maybe he really hadn’t seen me arrive . . . or noticed my car in the parking lot. Unlikely, but I guess it was possible.
I walked over to Mr. Landon’s truck. No wonder he hadn’t seen me. His straw hat had slid down over his eyes. Had he been waiting on me for so long he’d fallen asleep?
I rapped my knuckles lightly on the window. “Mr. Landon?”
When he didn’t respond, I knocked a little harder. Still, no response. I was getting concerned. What if Mr. Landon had suffered a stroke or something?
I heard a car pull into the lot. I glanced over my shoulder and was glad to see Luis parking beside my Beetle. Luis was our busboy and dishwasher. He could help me get Mr. Landon out of the truck and inside the café if need be.
After knocking on the window again and still getting no response from Mr. Landon, I carefully opened the door of the truck. Mr. Landon began sliding out onto the pavement. Was that blood on his shirt?
“Luis! Can you help me?”
I heard Luis’s feet pounding the pavement as he ran to us. “What’s going on?” He gasped. “Amy, he’s bleeding.”
“I see that. And right now, he’s falling out of the truck. Could you help me get him?”
“I don’t think we should. Let’s put him back inside the truck and call for help.” He stepped between the door and Mr. Landon and gently pushed the man toward the passenger side of the truck.
Mr. Landon fell over and I could see that his throat had been cut. I was barely aware that I was screaming until I felt Luis’s hands on my shoulders.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do for him,” he said. “Let’s get you inside.”
“No. No, we have to stay with him. We have to wait here until help comes.”
I heard Luis talking, but it wasn’t to me. He’d called 9-1-1.
“Thank you,” I said as he returned his phone to his pocket.
“You shouldn’t be looking at this.” He gently turned me away from Mr. Landon’s truck. “The man is dead.”
We walked a few feet away from the truck.
“You’re shaking,” he said. “You need to sit down.”
He needed to sit as badly as I did. Still, I wasn’t about to leave Mr. Landon until after the paramedics arrived.
“I’m fine,” I told him, knowing fully well that neither of us was fine.
I was relieved when I heard sirens approaching. Poor Mr. Landon was almost out of my incapable care.
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. She also writes as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, she writes the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, she writes the Embroidery Mystery series.
The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The heroine, Daphne, has returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge to open a cake baking and decorating business and is wrestling with the question of whether or not one can go home again. She enjoys spending time with her sister, nephew, and niece, but she and her mother have a complicated relationship that isn’t always pleasant. Daphne has also reconnected with her high school sweetheart and is pursuing a rekindled romance while desperately trying to put her past behind her.
Kerry Vincent, Hall of Fame Sugar Artist, Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show Director, and Television Personality says the series is “a must read for cake bakers and anyone who has ever spent creative time in the kitchen!”
Says Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author, “One day I found myself happily reading . . . mysteries by Gayle Trent. If she can win me over . . . she’s got a great future.”
The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. Marcy Singer left her home in San Francisco, along with the humiliation of being left at the altar, in order to move to Tallulah Falls and realize her dream of owning her own shop. She takes along her faithful companion, a one-year-old Irish wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff. She makes many new friends in Tallulah Falls, but she also makes a few enemies. Thankfully, her best friend Sadie MacKenzie and her husband Blake run the coffeehouse right down the street from Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch; and Detective Ted Nash always has her back.
Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of the genre will take kindly to Marcy, her Irish wolfhound, Angus O’Ruff, and Tallulah Falls. This is a fast, pleasant read with prose full of pop culture references and, of course, sharp needlework puns.”
Pat Cooper of RT Book Reviews says, “If her debut here is any indication, Lee’s new series is going to be fun, spunky and educational. She smoothly interweaves plot with her character’s personality and charm, while dropping tantalizing hints of stitching projects and their history. Marcy Singer is young, fun, sharp and likable. Readers will be looking forward to her future adventures.” (RT Book Reviews nominated The Quick and the Thread for a 2010 Book Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Amateur Sleuth category)
She lives in Virginia with her family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff.
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What about you? What’s your favorite way to eat honey?