A Late Frost (An Orchard Mystery #11) by Sheila Connolly (Amazon Link)
Rating: Very Good
Description: The usually quiet town of Granford, Massachusetts, is even drowsier during the colder months. But this year it’s in for a jolt when Monica Whitman moves into town.
She’s a dynamo who wants to make friends fast in her new home, and she throws herself into community activities. Meg Corey, now Chapin after her marriage to Seth Chapin, is intrigued by the new arrival, who has already sold the town board on a new, fun way to bring in visitors during the off-season: WinterFare, which will feature local foods (such as Meg’s apples) and crafts, as well as entertainment.
Tragically, Monica falls ill and dies after the event in what looks like a case of food poisoning. When all the food served at WinterFare has been tested, including Meg’s apples, it becomes clear that there’s a more sinister explanation to the older woman’s sudden demise.
Meg’s investigation uncovers a bushel of potential suspects, one of whom is rotten to the core.
Genre: Mystery - Cozy
Why I Picked This Book: This is one of the first cozy mystery series that I discovered and it has been a favorite ever since.
My Impression: One of the best things about cozy mystery series is the feeling of visiting old friends every time you open the next book. Meg and Seth are two of my oldest book friends and I was really excited to see them starting this new chapter of her life. I liked that they were still kind of figuring things out and learning how to work as a team.
This book starts out just as Meg and Seth are returning from their honeymoon and right away regular life manages to pull them back in. Meg has to deal with the hiring of a new orchard manager, the rather unfriendly Larry and Seth is back in the chaos of town affairs helping to organize the new WinterFare which was suggested by new town resident, Monica. Right away I knew Monica's days were numbered. New residents in cozy mystery towns have a life expectancy of about a day and a half.
It takes awhile for the murder investigation to really get going and it was kind of fun watching Meg really try to stay out of it yet manage to fall into the middle of it time and time again. The official investigation is very much background as it's being handled by the state police and the long suffering Art, the police chief of Granford, is only really in a consulting role. However, that doesn't keep Meg and Seth and any number of friends and family from discussing what's going on, what could have happened, and everything else about the murder that they can think of. I really enjoyed this method of investigation. It was believable that a murder in a small town would be the number one topic on everyone's minds and believable that Meg and Seth would be involved in this way without actively interfering in a police investigation.
This is a really fun cozy series with characters I really enjoy spending time with and a setting I wish was real so I could visit. I adore the apple orchard aspect though it does make me want to chase down all kinds of unusual varieties of apples just to try them! This is perfect cold weather cozy mystery reading with perhaps a cup of hot apple cider and a piece of apple cake nearby.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I'm looking forward to the next book and catching up on the books I've missed.
Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a good series that I've found to be really solid with a great community feel.