First Line: "'What on earth is going on here?' I asked, wheeling my grampy's old farm truck into the field just outside Potter's Pumpkin Patch."
Summary: The fall season is ramping up in Blossom Valley. Winona Mae Montgomery's cider shop is flourishing and her grandma's orchard is thriving. The Fall Family Fun Days is going on at Potter's Pumpkin Patch complete with the "Crusher", a large vehicle that crushes pumpkins. Winnie and Dot are visiting the pumpkin patch to pick up some things Granny ordered to get the orchard ready for the season. Mr. Potter, long time friend of the family and owner of the pumpkin patch, offers to load the items in Winnie's truck. She and Dot take a look around the pumpkin patch before heading back to the truck. Winnie expects to find Mr. Potter there loading her truck, but she doesn't see him. He has loaded the truck and covered it with a tarp. It is not until several hours later that Winnie discovers not only her Granny's order under the tarp, but also the dead body of Mr. Potter. It is difficult to imagine who could have done this. Mr. Potter was well liked by most people. However, Winnie did notice that he had been having a heated discussion with someone before he came out to help her with her order. Could that person have murdered him?
My thoughts: Winnie is such a likeable character. She loves her state of West Virginia and especially the Blue Ridge Mountains. She has a huge heart for people, especially those who haven't been dealt the best hand in life. If someone is threatening her life or the lives of those she cares about she can't sit still and wait for the police to solve the case. This last part drives Sheriff Colton Wise crazy. I will admit there was a point in the book where I was getting quite fed up with Winnie myself because she wouldn't listen to reason. However, she finally came around and made sure she was working with the police and not on her own.
All the characters from the other books are back for this one, but Granny isn't around as much as she has been in others. When she is around, she has her posse of crafters with her. They all keep an eye on Winnie and treat her like she is their own granddaughter. We got to see a bit more of Winnie's best friend Dot and her ex-boyfriend Hank in this story as well. There were some new characters that I hope we see more of in future books.
The Blue Ridge Mountains setting is lovely, especially in the fall. I always enjoy hearing about Winnie's cider shop and her process of creating new flavors of cider. And the apple treats Granny bakes certainly make me hungry as I read.
There were two mystery threads going on this time. One was continued from the last book and involves a convict that Sheriff Wise put away, but who escaped after killing a guard. He has threatened to come after Sheriff Wise. The other involves the murder of Mr. Potter. The suspects include an angry neighbor, Mrs. Potter and someone who is possibly stealing money from the pumpkin patch. The way things came together in the end was well orchestrated and intense.
This is a great fall read taking place early October through Thanksgiving. In fact, all the books in this series are great fall reads. If you are new to the series, I recommend you start with the first book, Apple Cider Slaying. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the Cider Shop Mysteries.