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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review - A Killer Crop

Today we have a harvest themed mystery amid bushels of apples and Massachusetts fall colors.  Grab a cup of hot coffee/tea and curl up for this peek at a soon-to-be-released novel.

Author: Sheila Connolly

Copyright: December 2010 (Berkley Books) 300 pgs

Series: 4th An Orchard Mystery

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery Sub-genre: cozy

Main Character: Meg Corey, former Boston banker now apple orchard owner

Setting: Modern day Granford Massachusetts

Obtained Through: publisher for honest review

Meg is in the middle of her first harvest and busier than a one-armed-paper-hanger when her mother drops by for a visit.  But Elizabeth Corey seems to be hiding something from her daughter.  Then the police are asking about an old friend of Elizabeth's that they find dead under mysterious circumstances that she had really been in town to see while her husband was on an extended ocean fishing trip.  The dead man was a married professor specializing in Emily Dickinson that Meg's parents had been good friends with in their college days.  Why was Meg's mom seeing this man seemingly on the sly and who would kill a boring college professor?

The small town of Granford Mass is a good setting and the orchard and apple growing a perfect background for this series.  The town and atmosphere are cozy gold.  The added ingredient of Emily Dickinson and her life in the neighboring town lent a scholarly and historical feel to the story.

The reader sees Meg going through an internal struggle with her relationship with her mother and even wrestle with officially revealing her boyfriend to her mother.  Unlike many sleuth and mother conflicts, this one shows both mother and daughter growing which I appreciated.  Elizabeth Corey is so well done that  grew fond of her and look forward to her in upcoming books.

I do have a complaint.  The tension between Meg needing to constantly help with the harvest and yet trying to force time here and there to help her mother was strained by the Orchard Manager.  Meg is the owner of the orchard and she is constantly taking harsh orders from Bree, the twenty-something manager who works for her.  Bree would say things like "You're late." At no point did Meg correct her attitude.  Not only is Meg paying Bree, but she is getting a room in Meg's house and yet this over-the-top bossiness is a recurring theme.  I found this unrealistic and irritating, really irritating.

The mystery itself was interesting, if not riveting.  A man who appears to have no reason at all to be murdered dies under suspcious circumstances and Elizabeth Corey is implicated.  The resolution was a let down for me.  No climatic confrontation with a killer but rather a calm explanation of what really happened.  Anti-climatic.   Overall, It is a solid cozy read with a community you will feel comfy with.

Pumpkin Pancakes


Mix in one bowl:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Mix in another bowl:
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Combine, stir well and make pumpkin pancakes!

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