Guest Chick: Frankie Bow, on the Great Murder Hornet Mystery Story

Leslie Karst here. Frankie Bow and I first met at the California Crime Writers’ Convention in Los Angeles about six years ago, when we sat at the same table at lunch, only to realize we both lived in Hilo, Hawai’i (me only half time). We immediately hit it off, and the rest–as they say–is history. She’s one of the funniest gals I know, so you’re in for a treat today:

Murder hornets: 2020’s surprise mystery trend, because why not?

The year 2020 has given mystery writers a lot of story material: The fleeting clue in someone’s Zoom background. The masked stranger and the case of mistaken identity. The death of a key witness in an overcrowded hospital.

And then there’s the Murder Hornet.

The Murder Hornet, aka the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), is the largest hornet in the world, about the size of a cocktail sausage (if cocktail sausages had wings). It’s native to Asia but has recently been spotted in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

With the news full of a relentless global pandemic, deadly weather events, and cracks in the fragile global supply chain upon which our entire way of life depends, the Murder Hornet is the villain we need now.

Despite its fearsome (actually awesome) name, the Murder Hornet doesn’t generally kill people. Murder Hornets attack and eat other social insects such as honeybees. (Read more about them here.)

The important question is: How do we get Murder Hornets into murder mysteries? I am still working out the details. Here are my notes. Feel free to use them. As we say in academic publishing, don’t thank me; cite me.

1) The story begins with the newly-single protagonist returning to her backwater hometown to start over. Instead of opening a bookstore, a bakery, or a wedding-planning business, she dusts off her master’s degree in entomology and sets up shop as an exterminator. But on the day of her grand opening…Murder Hornets.

2) Instead of a sassy cat sidekick, a Murder Hornet.


3) Love triangle? One of the suitors (the dashing “bad boy”) is stung to death by Murder Hornets. The heroine ends up with the boring one. Problem solved.

4) Instead of bumbling police, make them bumblebee police. They are understandably terrified of Murder Hornets. They call on the amateur sleuth to save the day (because they don’t want their heads snipped off and their thoraxes eaten by Murder Hornets). How the tables have turned!


5a) The detective’s crooked boss tells him he’s off the case because his investigation Got Too Close to a Powerful Person. The crooked boss is subsequently revealed to be a bunch of Murder Hornets in a human suit when a rookie cop “accidentally” slices open his latex skin and lets all the hornets fly out. (Probably not suitable for a cozy mystery).

5b) (Different POV) A veteran cop has to get a new partner after the death of his old one. The partners are at each other’s throats until the rookie proves herself by revealing their crooked boss to be a bunch of live hornets inside a latex human-like skin. There is a lot of paperwork afterwards.

Bow_FrankieFrankie Bow writes The Professor Molly mysteries and licensed novellas in Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune universe. As “Patience Fairweather,” she is also the author of No, You Can’t be an Astronaut, a realistic career guide.

Like Professor Molly, Frankie teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair.

In addition to writing murder mysteries and self-help books, Frankie publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.


trust-fall Cover

About TRUST FALL: Meetings can be murder. Literally.

It’s going to be another boring faculty retreat at Mahina State University, “Where Your Future Begins Tomorrow.”

But then the Trust Fall exercise goes horribly wrong…

Get TRUST FALL, a free Professor Molly short story, in all formats, here.

Explore the Professor Molly series here.


Readers: Do you have any ideas to add to the Murder Hornet mystery story?

34 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Frankie Bow, on the Great Murder Hornet Mystery Story

    1. Victim would be me. I was stung for the first time last summer by a…bumblebee. That was enough for lifetime. I remember, because my hand closed on it as I was weeding without gloves and I couldn’t get rid of the thing, it was soft and fuzzy. And very painful.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Thank you so much for this, Frankie! Utterly brilliant. How about this one, though it’s more comics related than cozy.

    Kato saves the day by coming to the rescue of the Green Hornet, who’s been framed for murder by a hive of murder hornets jealous of his fame.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Frankie, it’s awesome to meet you! How much do I love this post? Just visited your website and your books all look so fun it’s hard to choose which to start with. (Recommendations?) So I don’t have an actual plot for my murder hornet mystery yet, but I envision our intrepid sleuth arriving upon a crime scene of headless bodies and mushed up torsos. Oh…not cozy? Someone please tell me what those 3 little dots are in the middle of that thing’s forehead. Are those…eyes? EEEEEEK!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Welcome, Frankie, and thank you for these brilliant ideas! I especially loved the human suit. EEEE!

    I’ve never been afraid of bees/wasps/yellow jackets and the like. (In fact, we have three bee hives on our property, as we’re sort of “fostering” bees for some friends.). But I’m absolutely terrified of these hornets. They look so intimidating! And I may never eat a cocktail sausage again.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Kathy, now I’m worried for your safety in the Pacific Northwest! Frankie, could Kathy’s bee hives attract murder hornets? (Kathy, wear a beekeeper’s outfit when you venture outside, just to be on the safe side.)

      Liked by 4 people

      1. It wasn’t until I read this post that I fully realized that murder hornets are in the Pacific Northwest! (Hello, denial!) And you know how I said I’m not afraid of bees? WELL, the newly hived bees swarmed last week and I gotta say, it was spectacular, fascinating and frightening. They’re a FORCE.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. How about having one of the hornets being a pacifist (“but I don’t want to murder bees!”), which is later found dead, and the protag has to figure out which of its fellow murder hornets did the deed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. At the climax of the story comes the Moment of Truth…
      Surrounded by her foes, will she kill to defend herself, even if it means going against everything she’s ever believed in?
      Coming in October: A new thriller from Frankie Bow…
      Wait, not thrillery enough.
      Coming in October: A new thriller from FRANK BOWMAN
      THE STING! (That hasn’t been used before, has it?)

      Liked by 6 people

  5. Great post, Frankie — thanks for visiting Chicks today! Love the clue in the background of a Zoom meeting! (Think only clue to be found over my shoulder is I need to dust!)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. So happy that you are visiting us today, Frankie! YAY! I was just dusting my collection of Professor Molly books yesterday and wondering when the next one was going to come out because I am ADDICTED.

    Can’t shake the image of the rookie cop releasing the hornets now, ahhhhhhhh! Scary!

    For what it’s worth, I’m just waiting for some sports team to rename themselves the Murder Hornets. It is such a fierce name that it’s only a matter of time…

    Liked by 5 people

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