Apple Cider Slaying
By Julie Anne Lindsey
A Cider Shop Mystery #1
Apples are at the core of the family business run by Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe. But this year’s crop is unseasonably ripe with murder …
ONE ROTTEN APPLE
Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business. But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the “First Annual Christmas at the Orchard,” a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough delicious draw to satisfy apple-picking locals and cider-loving tourists alike—until the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s long-time, grudge-holding nemesis, is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder …
Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey is an exquisite cozy mystery that goes on my “best of the best” list. The narrative is well written, characters are rich and appealing, and the vivid setting becomes an integral part of the story. I was caught up from the first page and never wanted to put it down.
West Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain town of Blossom Valley in the fall, home of the Smythe family orchard, provides a setting rich in atmosphere. Winnie, having returned home to help her beloved Granny Smythe run the struggling family business, has some creative ideas of her own when it comes to apple cider recipes. There’s even some recipes included that I’m eager to try.
Enjoyable subplots add to the complexity and richness of this story. Granny feels bad for letting the business slide after her husband’s death, but Winnie’s dreams of using their historic Mail Pouch barn for a future apple cider store promises some good storytelling in this series. Subplots include trying to secure a bank loan from Mr. Sherman, taking in two rescue kittens who aren’t weaned yet, the sudden appearance of an ex-boyfriend, and a delightful romantic interest between Winnie and Sheriff Colton Wise. There a great need for people willing to foster kittens in need, so this was a theme that I loved – and the two orange kittens – Kenny (Rogers) and Dolly – stole my heart.
When Granny is suspected of involvement in the murder of a neighbor that she had difficulty with over the years, Winnie starts listening to gossip and asking questions, seeking to find another viable suspect. I enjoy this type of investigation, but always miss clues that would reveal the murderer’s identity. It’s so much fun just to go along for the ride, however.
Apple Cider Slaying is thoroughly entertaining and I’m eager to spend more time with these characters. The story is clean, with no profanity at all. Highly recommended.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. When she’s not creating new worlds and organizing the epic adventures of fictional characters, Julie can be found carpooling her three kids around Northeastern Ohio and plotting with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.