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Death & Honey
by Kevin Hearne, Lila Bowen, Chuck Wendig
Subterranean Press, $45.00, 300pp
Published: February 2019

This is a set of three novellas with a tenuous theme of honey and bees running through it.

Kevin Hearne starts off with an Oberon’s Meaty Mystery starring none other than his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon and his Boston Terrier, Starbuck.  Atticus is still in Australia healing Tasmanian Devils when Oberon and Starbuck discover a body beneath a beehive, apparently stung to death.  However, it quickly becomes apparent that the bees were framed.  This was, as usual, light fun with the twist that Oberon’s motives have less to do with the usual sausages and gravy and more to do with the future promise of poodles and Atticus’ happiness.

The second story comes from Hearne’s erstwhile partner Delilah Dawson writing as Lila Bowen.  It concerns a character from Bowen’s Shadow series: Rhett Walker.  Rhett has tried to retire from the shadow business and stay home to mind the ranch and be close to his love, Sam. He hasn’t felt the pull in a very long time but all that changes with an errant bee.  The bee leads him to a prosperous village in a valley…that shouldn’t exist where it does.  But when it becomes a case of rescuing a kidnapped child, Rhett ignores all the warning signs of danger and casts caution to the winds.  It’s as much a story of his heroics as it is of people taking for granted benefits that come with a price.  I enjoyed this even though I’d not met Rhett before.

The third comes from Hearne’s and Lila’s collaborator, Chuck Wendig.  Chuck uses a universe he created of people with power.  I’ve not read any of these stories but that didn’t slow this one down.  A recurring character of his, Miriam Black, starts the story but it’s really about a protégé of hers, Wren. While Miriam sees when and how people die, Wren’s gift is to see people who are either killers now or will be.  The conundrum for Wren is that her gift isn’t always very clear-cut; for example:  will a person be a killer because they accidently killed someone in a traffic accident, or killed someone in self-defense?  Do they deserve to die before events have even happened?  And, for Wren, the choice to dispense justice is easy when the crimes have already been committed but seriously troubling when the person hasn’t done anything yet.  The last time she killed a killer-to-be, it caused the end to her relationship with Miriam and the chance to be a better person.  On her own and on the road, Wren is met by a woman whose powers include controlling little creatures, like bees.  Lissa and her partner, Jimmy, hunt other people with power; monsters who use their power for bad.  Technically, that includes Wren but Lissa has use for Wren’s power and convinces her to use it for “good”.  It doesn’t exactly go as Lissa might have wished.  And Wren comes to seriously regret collaborating with Lissa. A very dark story but very well-delivered; interesting concepts. ~~ Catherine Book

For more titles by Kevin Hearne click here
For more titles by Chuck Wendig click here

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