Narrator: Amy Melissa Bentley
Series: Cider Shop Mystery #1
Published by Tantor Audio on October 29, 2019
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 47 mins
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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 . . .
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 is the first book in a new series. I’ve read a couple books by this author (under her pseudonym) before and enjoyed them well enough, but what drew me to this one was the Christmassy setting.
Winnie has returned to her hometown, Blossom Valley, West Virginia to help Granny turn around the family business. She has plans to open a cider shop, allowing Granny’s orchard to make money year-round, but she needs a loan. While leading the banker on a tour of the property, she finds the neighbor dead in the cider press, the neighbor who was in a decades-long feud with Granny. Winnie decides she has to do some investigating because she can’t bear the thought of her grandmother being accused. She and the sheriff butt heads a bit, but he’s the potential love interest, so of course he’s mostly concerned with her safety. In the meantime, she decides to go ahead with a Christmas Festival at the orchard, because they really do need an inflow of cash.
I really liked the small-town setting. People in town are not rich, but they care about each other. This is the first in the series, so there’s a lot of time spent setting up the background and developing the characters. Winnie is maybe not my favorite character, but her friend, Dot, was fantastic, and her grandma was strong, and supportive and just kind of awesome.
The writing was good. There were several potential culprits and red herrings, and enough danger to make it tense. Why is it though that so many cozy mystery leading ladies fall for the sheriff/detective/former investigator? At least I hope that’s what’s going on here and that she doesn’t give her ex-boyfriend another shot.
Overall, Apple Cider Slaying wasn’t outstanding, but it was enjoyable.