A Cider Shop Mystery, Book #2
By Julie Anne Lindsey
Author Website: julieannelindsey.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Nothing’s sweeter than a fruitful family business, and for Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe, that means Smythe Orchards in Blossom Valley, Virginia. But this year’s apple crop is especially juicy—with scandal . . .
SEEDS OF DANGER
Thanks to Winnie’s new cider shop, Smythe Orchards is out of the red and folks can get their fix of the produce and other delectable products they love all year round. The locals are even booking the shop for events, including a June wedding! Winnie couldn’t be happier to see the barn filled to the rafters for the big bash—until her doting ex, Hank, is caught in a heated argument with the groom. Winnie plans to scold Hank after the party, but spots him running off instead. And when the groom turns up dead, apparently hit by the honeymoon getaway car, Hank is the main suspect. Now Hank is on the lam, and it’s up to Winnie to get to the core of the truth—before the real killer puts the squeeze on her. (Goodreads)
What a great read! I enjoyed learning about Granny Smythe’s orchard and baked goods, and Winnie’s cider shop and home-crafted beverages! All the elements are present to grab and hold my attention from the start, including well-defined characters, a mystery I couldn’t solve, and a historic Virginia setting that sounds beautiful.
Granny and Grampy began the orchard many years ago; Granny has now been widowed for a few years. Winnie lived with them most of her life after her mom ran out, and now lives in a house on the property. She grew up with all the love her grandparents could lavish on her with each other and the orchard their focus. She is beyond busy, as she has been taking a class every semester for ten years, helps Granny with the orchard, and recently opened a cider shop. She sells her cider blends, Granny’s baked goods, and sandwiches.
The cider shop in the barn is the venue for a wedding for the daughter of a local family. Their original location cancelled at the last minute, so Winnie, Granny, and best friend Dot had three weeks to prepare and decorate for the event. If it increases traffic and popularity as a venue for the cider shop and orchard, it will have been well worth it.
The mother of Elsie, the bride, invited everyone in town to the reception. One person Winnie was not happy to see was her ex-boyfriend, Hank, now cuddling with one of the younger bridesmaids. Jack, the bridegroom, looks … off. He drinks from a flask in his pocket and acts as if he has had a few too many. Winnie hears two men arguing. It is Hank and Jack, and when she called out to Hank, Jack ran off. Elsie ran after Jack, with the bridesmaids not far behind. Winnie went to see what was happening, then heard Elsie scream. She saw Hank’s truck speed away from the property. When Winnie got to Elsie, the newlyweds’ getaway vehicle – an old farm truck – was running, and Elsie was on Jack, hysterical. Jack had been hit by the getaway truck but didn’t get away.
This is the second murder on the property, the first one being last fall. She feels terrible for the bride and the families and feels worse that she is concerned about the future of the cider shop. Winnie had helped solve that murder, and her mind is already reeling about what could have happened. No matter how she feels about Hank, Winnie knows he is not a killer. If Sheriff Colton Wise will just believe her.
Not only does it feel like her house, then her shop, is being watched, but someone broke in her home. Colton thinks it might be Hank, looking for someone to harbor him. Winnie and Dot go to Hank’s family’s hunting cabin in the nearby national park and get shot at! Someone has been staying at the shack. When Colton went there, everything in the cabin was removed, but they did find a shell casing. Early the next morning, they find another body, partially covered in leaves, yards from the cabin.
I like Winnie, Dot, and Granny best. Winnie is a hard-working young woman who is dedicated to her grandmother, her shop, and her studies. Dot, Winnie’s best friend, is in many ways different than Winnie. She is an outdoorswoman, a national park ranger, and avid animal rescuer. Winnie took in two rescued kittens from her last fall, while Dot’s four-acre hobby farm is a refuge for all her rescues until they have forever homes or can be released into the park. Granny is a selfless yet fun-loving woman who made sure Winnie had the best childhood possible; she works hard to keep the orchard. And I love the special grass-cutting crew! Especially the most unique one!
This is a series that I will enjoy. I am impressed by the décor of the cider shop and how the town is incorporated into every piece of it; Winnie’s love for her community is exemplary. Plot twists continue to change the landscape of the investigation; I could not have guessed the motive, even if I had the evidence in hand. The killer was somewhat of a surprise; while I thought of the person, I couldn’t imagine a motive for the culprit. All loose ends are tied up except for the cliffhanger. I highly recommend this delightful, scary, novel and series!