ARC Review: Apple Cider Slaying

Apple Cider Slaying.png

SERIES: A Cider Shop Mystery #1





Apple Cider Slaying (A Cider Shop Mystery #1)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 . . .

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.


Apple Cider Slaying is the first book that I’ve read by Julie Anne Lindsey and it’s the first book in her new A Cider Shop Mystery series. I have read two of her other books under her pseudonym of Jacqueline Frost, the two Christmas Tree Farm Mystery books and I absolutely adored both of them so I was super excited to pick this one up. I think you can really feel Lindsey’s writing style come through in both, so if you’ve read one, you should like the other.

Quick question: why do so many cozy mystery authors have so many different pseudonyms? I’m not complaining, but it just seems like some authors have a different surname for every series, and that makes it harder for me to find their backlist. Just a thought…

Anyway, Apple Cider Slaying is set in the lead up to Christmas as Winnie and her Granny are getting their orchard ready for the first-ever Winter Fest. They’re hoping that an uptake in Christmas traffic and the Cider Shop Winnie’s hoping to open, can save Granny’s Orchard from being foreclosed.

The three main elements in a cozy (for me) are (in order) the characters, the setting and the mystery.

I will say the investigation in this book felt pretty straight forward to me, in that there weren’t an awful lot of red herrings, but at the same time, although I wasn’t suspecting anyone in particular, I also didn’t suspect the actual perpetrator until just before Winnie herself made the connection. I think that’s the perfect time in a cozy for the reader to get it: just moments before the sleuth.

I really appreciated and enjoyed both the characters and the setting. Winnie is fun and bubbly and as almost idiotically stubborn as all the best cozy protagonist are. She’s told off a dozen times and yet she still sticks her nose in where it shouldn’t be. Sometimes this can put me off a protagonist, but Winnie is so likeable and charming it just made me feel incredibly fond of her.

I would have liked to see a little more of the town itself, and maybe some of the other residents. There were quite a lot of characters touched upon briefly so the story and the town had a really good sense of scale: you believe that there was a living town near with other people getting on with their lives. I think that Lindsey could probably go back and make these characters bigger players in future novels. I really like the level of thought that’s gone into setting up a longer running series.

I was a little disappointed when I was looking things up a few months ago that we didn’t seem to be getting another Christmas Tree Farm Mystery this year, but Apple Cider Slaying certainly makes up for that! It’s a great, fun mystery absolutely perfect for reading just before you get into the really intensively seasonal period.

It’s warm, charming and perfect for reading in front of a roaring fire with a hot mug of whatever takes your fancy.


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