A Cider House Mystery: Book 1
Publication Date: January 16, 2024
Perfect for fans of Amanda Flower and Julie Anne Lindsey, when Kate Mulligan inherits her great uncle’s fruit orchard, she quickly realizes that apples aren’t the only thing that can have rotten cores.
After losing her husband in a terrible car crash, thirty-five-year-old Kate is left to pick up the pieces of her life alone. Although she has physically recovered, she worries her spirit never will. But when she learns that she has inherited a fruit orchard in a small town just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from her great uncle Stan, she takes this as an opportunity ripe for the picking. Kate knew immediately what to do with it: open a cider house. Her hopeful plans fall far from the tree when she finds the body of the orchard manager, Carl Randolph, leaving her to figure out who is at the core of this murder.
She had been in correspondence with Carl, who had agreed with her brilliant idea of opening a cider house. But not everyone is so quick to buy what she was selling—Uncle Stan’s lawyer, Robert Larabee, paints a less rosy financial outlook of the orchard’s past, present, and future.
Kate discovers that Carl had large, unexplained deposits to his bank account and it becomes clear that either he was blackmailing someone, or someone was paying him to keep quiet. Meanwhile, Kate and her neighbors receive offers to buy their property from a mysterious buyer. And there’s more than meets the eye with the neighboring orchard owner, Daniel Martinez, although Kate can’t quite put her finger on if it’s sweet or sour.
Will she be able to pick out the bad apple among the bunch before it’s too late?
There is a lot of meat to the story, with characters who have depth, and what you see is not what you always get. Small town life is also depicted with its small businesses and gossips along with several historical references.
There is a murder and an untimely death, but is it also a murder? So many stories are told as we get the lay of the land and learn about the characters little by little. There were vivid descriptions that made me feel like I was there, and having been to that area of Pennsylvania numerous times, it wasn’t hard to draw me in. There are clues to unravel by the police, Daniel, who previously worked in law enforcement, and Kate, the amateur sleuth, who is new to town and the owner of the Cider House that will be opening soon. There is some romance in the air, but will it go anywhere?
There are twists and turns as Kate pieces together some of what’s been happening and then shares her information with Daniel and the police. There is danger in the air, and someone else could also be hurt. As the whodunnit is solved, there is closure to the story, but I look forward to reading more of this series. There are recipes at the back of the book, and I plan to try a couple of them.
Deadly to the Core is the first book in this cozy mystery series set in a small Pennsylvanian town rich in history but with some dead bodies, too. If you like reading about amateur sleuths in action, this might be the book for you!
Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. In addition to the Cider House Mysteries, she wrote the Brewing Trouble Mysteries. As Joyce St. Anthony, she writes the Homefront News historical mysteries. She lives in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania with her husband and two cats named Hops and Lager.
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