this vibrantly-imagined novel, by turns hilarious and appalling, is hard to resist
- DAILY MAIL
winner the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize, Canada & Europe
It is nearing Christmas in a Glasgow housing estate, but there won’t be any presents this year for Marnie, 15, or Nelly, 11. Their mother is beginning to decompose in the coal shed, and they are burying their father in the back garden, though it’s hard work so it’ll have to be a shallow grave.
Only Marnie and Nelly know what happened, although Lennie the next-door neighbour has been watching their movements closely. Living alone since the death of his partner, Lennie soon realises that no-one has been looking after the girls, and he begins to take care of them, making them dinner and washing their clothes.
The problem is, their dad owed Mick the ice-cream man a lot of money for some drugs that went missing, and Mick has been asking a lot of questions. Now Mick’s boss, Vlado, is also beginning to ask questions. And Nelly’s teachers are asking questions. Soon, the girls’ grandfather turns up, asking questions. The girls have been planting lavender in the garden to hide the answers, but Nelly is worried about what might happen if the bees die out. On top of which, Marnie has to study for her GCSEs…
THE DEATH OF BEES is a strikingly original debut, told in the voices of two sisters and the neighbour who tries to help them. Part murder mystery, part social commentary, Lisa O’Donnell takes us to the heart of contemporary Glasgow to ask her own questions about love and loneliness.
Lisa O’Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for her screenplay The Wedding Gift, and in the same year was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters Award. Recently she took a break from screenwriting when she moved to LA with her two children. The Death of Bees is her first novel.