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Book Review -The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

Posted by mcm0704 on August 19, 2018 |

The Colonel and the Bee
Patrick Canning
Print Length: 304 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Evolved Publishing LLC; 1 edition (June 1, 2018)
Publication Date: June 1, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B07D9QT4FM

BOOK BLURB: Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world of the halcyon 19th century, a time when the last dark corners of the map were being sketched out and travel still possessed a kind of magic.

One night in Switzerland, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix’s show. This larger-than-life English gentleman, reputed to have a voracious appetite for female conquests, is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon called The Ox.

Beatrix flees that night to join the Colonel, and the two of them make a narrow escape—Beatrix from her abusive ringleader, the Colonel from a freshly-made cuckold. Beatrix, feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, pledges to help him catch the criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his magnificent balloon.

The criminal seeks a precious figurine, The Blue Star Sphinx, but he’s not alone. The Sphinx’s immense value has also drawn the attention of the world’s most deadly treasure hunters. A murder in Antwerp begins a path of mystery that leads all the way to the most isolated island on Earth.

REVIEW:  In one of their first exchanges after Bee joined the Colonel on the Ox, I got a sense of how the relationship between them would play out. When Bee asks the Colonel if he has any tea his response is, “Why Bee, tea is for the indecisive, hard-pressed to take a position on which way to comb their hair in the morning. A more apathetic beverage is hard to come across. Coffee begs you to take it somewhere new. A welcome traveling partner, an astute mind sharpener, and…”

She responds, “Very well put Colonel. Just the same, have you any tea?”

When he accedes to her wishes, it’s clear that even though she is much younger and not as educated or experienced as the Colonel, he will not treat her as an underling.

There’s a whimsical nature to the story and the writing that brings to mind works such as “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Like that story, the reader of The Colonel and the Bee has to suspend disbelief to buy into the fiction of the Ox, with all the levels and compartments. The author had me believing in this wondrous hot-air balloon, but then I believed in the Chocolate Factory, too.

The story is full of unusual, and endearing, characters. “The Newlyweds,” as the Colonel refers to his on-board help in the form of George and Thelma, who are now long-past the newlywed stage. Then there’s the man in the lighthouse at Europa Point, Billingsly, who has a goat that eats books, but “Only the lesser works.”

Quite the eccentric, Billingsly is so eager to know why the Colonel has come he says, “You must disclose the purpose of your visit before my mind tears itself to shreds in violent curiosity.”

As Bee watches the man arrange for coffee for himself and his guests, she muses about his appearance. “…he joined us, battling back the thick plumes of hair he seemed constantly at odds with. The man didn’t so much sit, as temporarily confine his fidgeting to one location…”

The mystery almost takes a back seat to the interplay between characters and the clever observations about the unusual and the usual, but there is a true mystery that must be solved. There are also good doses of intrigue and danger in this traveling adventure, and it is a story well worth a read.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Patrick spends as much time as possible turning coffee into collections of words that look like books, shorts, and screenplays. Most of his stories attempt to look for the meaning of life in an adventurous way, and often employ humor, important since the search usually doesn’t turn up much. He is scared to use semi colons and rarely puts his seat back on airplanes.

Please come back on Wednesday, when Patrick will be my guest, sharing a bit about the research he did prior to writing The Colonel and the Bee. 

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