Sins of the Bees

Annie Lampman. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-533-5
When Silva Merigal, the 20-year-old heroine of Lampman’s affecting, lyrical debut, is going through her late grandfather Eamon’s effects on Washington State’s Trawler Island, she discovers paintings of 12 pregnant teenage girls in an envelope postmarked Two Rivers, Idaho. A handwritten note suggests that the paintings were sent to Eamon for safekeeping by Eamon’s runaway wife, Isabelle, the artist grandmother Silva has never met. Silva decides to drive to Two Rivers, where she hopes to find Isabelle, but instead encounters apocalyptic cult leader Len Dietz, who’s collecting munitions for the end times while grooming child brides to birth his holy army. The texts of Isabelle’s unsent letters to Eamon, filled with wistful love for him and grief over the fates of the girls she has been commissioned to paint by the female cult member who managed the brides’ training, punctuate the twinned stories of Silva’s search and her relationship with beekeeper Nick Larkin, an enemy of Len’s, whose property near the cult’s compound she winds up helping Nick look after. Though grounded in a mystery, the novel blossoms when it explores how the rhythms of nature add grace to human solitude. Only an incongruously happy ending mars this profound, stark tale of loss and longing across generations. Lampman is a writer to watch. Agent: Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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