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Poison Apples: A Mystery Featuring Vermont Farmer Ruth Willmarth Hardcover – July 2, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Buying a Vermont apple orchard to get a fresh start after the tragic death of their only child, Stan and Moira Earthrowl settle into learning about the business and beauty of apples in this poignant mystery. Before long, it becomes clear that someone is trying to sabotage their livelihood. Misused weed killers, apple maggots and webworms hamper the couple's apple pickers as they bring in the harvest. When an old Jamaican picker dies from eating a poisoned apple, Moira calls for help from her neighbor, Ruth Willmarth, the stalwart detective/farmer last seen in Harvest of Bones. Then Stan ends up accused of murder and suffers a stroke, after trying to defend Aaron Samuels, a local high school teacher, against a sexual harassment charge. Religious fanatics go after Samuels and the Earthrowls relentlessly. And the couple's sullen niece, Opal, causes endless discontent among the orchard population. Even the young love blooming between Ruth's daughter, Emily, and one of the pickers is troubled: Ruth thinks the boy's too old for Emily. As land developers circle like vultures, Ruth worries that her ex-husband, Pete, wants the Earthrowls' orchardAand her dairy farm. After a slow start, this novel has a lot going on, perhaps too much: the several subplots distract from the central thread. In addition, the saboteur/murderer becomes apparent too soon. However, Wright does create nicely balanced characters. She shares a smattering of interesting apple facts and supplies an unsentimental but affectionate look at farming in general. Agent, Alison Picard. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Moira and Stan Earthrowl moved to Vermont to escape the pain of their only daughter!s accidental death. Trouble pursues them, however, as they battle an apple-orchard saboteur at home and a cult-like censorship mob in town. Moira increasingly turns to neighbor Ruth for support, especially when her husband stands accused of killing one of the mob fanatics. Ruth digs around a bit, discovers a few surprises, and serves as the subject of and foil for a few lively subplots. Wright!s (Harvest of Bones) third mystery involving Vermont farmer Ruth Willmarth reads like a transplanted English village cozy. A likely choice for larger collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (July 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312262205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312262204
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,758,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Poison Apples" is the third in a series of mysteries set in a farming community in Vermont. This one takes place on an apple orchard. It is Nancy Means Wright 's most gripping and satisfying mystery novel to date. This is not a hard-boiled mystery; its characters and plots represent ordinary, everyday life in a small community ; the story includes much domestic detail. The pace remains quick, the relationships complex. As I live in Vermont, I can say that Wright's characters are absolutely true to the values and economic status of the citizens of our beautiful, quite untouched state. Wright's female characters are especially strong. I particularly liked earthy Moira Earthrowl and closely followed her growing friendship with dairy farmer, Ruth Willmarth, an amateur detective (Wright calls her "my hot tempered sleuth") and divorced mother whose sometime boyfriend owns a funeral parlor. Willmarth has also been the sleuth in Wright's two previous mysteries. The amount of research that Wright performed regarding apples, cows and Jamaican culture (many of the orchard's pickers are Jamaican) is impressive. Some of the book's strongest appeal come from these intricate social and agriculture details. But all is not merely cozy. Quite shocking and even violent in sections, Wright's novel held my interest throughout. It's a definite winner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Have bought too many phones on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Poison Apples is a page-turner that grips one with the complex characters and the issues they are facing in their lives. Wright incorporates many important contemporary issues--e.g., the difficulties of maintaining profitable family farms and orchards, the pressures of development on the land, societal value conflicts--in a real world, everyday-lives setting. This book is about regular people involved in somewhat unusual circumstances. The flow of the story and short scenes keep the reader interested in their lives and mysteries! An enjoyable read for everybody who picks it up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Three years ago in Connecticut their daughter Carol died. Needing a change to start over, high school biology teacher Stan Earthrowl and his wife Moira buy a Vermont apple orchard. Moira has since come to grips with her child's death, but her spouse still suffers from his devastating loss.

The hope for an idyll life has not been smooth as someone wants to destroy the Earthrowls efforts to succeed. Last year, someone allegedly using the wrong herbicide poisoned a fifth of the trees. Now, some one is cutting down mature trees. Finally one of the Jamaican pickers dies from a poisoned apple. With her spouse accused of the crime and suddenly ailing from a stroke, a desperate Moira asks her neighbor Ruth Willmarth for help. However, unbeknownst to Ruth, her land is also coveted and the people who want it could be her ex-spouse, local religious fanatics, or just some land grabbers.

POISON APPLES is an intriguing regional mystery that vividly brings Vermont's personality to the audience especially through Ruth, a wonderful character. The story line will remind readers of a roller coaster as it slowly works its way up to the first peak before taking off at a rapid pace. However, the numerous extemporaneous subplots clutter the fine main tale but fans of this New England mystery series will still enjoy this work.

Harriet Klausner
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