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One Bad Apple (An Orchard Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – August 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Connolly's less-than-gala freshman attempt at crime fiction drops Boston banker Meg Corey into tiny Granford, Mass., where she's agreed to rehab a 200-year-old house while looking for a new job. Then Meg's ex-lover is found murdered and bobbing around in her brand new septic tank, a crime that could sour Granford's big chance to lure outside commercial investors. When the local cops appear determined to look no further than Meg for a suspect, she decides to turn sleuth. Her only ally, Seth Chapin, the plumber who installed the new system, is also a suspect and not much help. The premise and plot are solid, and Meg seems a perfect fit for her role. However, so much time is spent restating the story's major conflict that both Meg and Seth remain enigmas—dropped into the plot as if from outer space—with insufficient background information to ripen into well-rounded characters. (Aug.)
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About the Author
Sheila Connolly is the New York Times bestselling, Anthony and Agatha award nominated author of the Orchard Mysteries, the Museum Mysteries, and the County Cork Mysteries. She has taught art history; structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities; worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns; and served as a fundraiser for several nonprofit organizations. Sheila also managed her own consulting company, providing genealogical research services. In addition to genealogy, she loves restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling. Now a full-time author, Sheila thinks writing mysteries is a lot more fun than any of her previous occupations. She is married and has one daughter and three cats.
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. This is the beginning of a series and lays the ground work for the people, places and attitudes. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Next, to set the mood, I read the first few lines: " 'Orchard? What orchard?' Meg Corey stared in confusion at the man standing on her doorstep. He reminded her of a hobbit. . . "
Then, I checked the dedication: Eleazor Warner(the author's ancestor) and John Chapman (the real Johnny Appleseed).
Finally, I noted the acknowledgments and smiled at these words: "I should also thank Mother Nature, who made this past season's apple crop absolutely spectacular. Finally, I need to thank my entomologist husband, who has served as my consultant on aspects of integrated pest management, and my daughter, who tramped through a lot of orchards with me and carried a lot of bags of apples."
The third day into the story I was sipping apple juice and studying the recipe for Fresh Apple Cake, one of five in the book.
In addition to this series, with its four titles(the fourth to be released in December), Connolly writes an Arizona-based cozy, the first of which is:Through a Glass, Deadly (Glassblowing Mysteries, No. 1). And she has launched yet a third series, set in a Philadelphia museum. Its first title is due out in October:Fundraising the Dead (A Museum Mystery).
THANK YOU Amazon.com and Sheila Connolly. Enjoy! I know I will.
Various other suspects present themselves - leaders of a proposed commercial venture that would pave over Meg's orchard, a lovable University professor whose career depends upon that orchard, various citizens of Granford, and Seth's family, his ex-wife, even Seth himself - and the ending, while not exactly shocking, is quite satisfying.
A bit too much time is spent watching Meg debate whether she wants to follow her original plan and sell the house, or whether she will choose to stay in Granford - we know she'll stay - but that does not detract significantly.
All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book: characters are people that we like (or not, depending), plot is neither too simple nor too complex and resolves satisfactorily, and we get an engaging view of small-town New England life and politics. Connolly even throws in a brief history of apples and a few apple recipes for good measure.
The Orchard Mystery series' next book is set up in a paragraph or two at the conclusion of One Bad Apple, and I very much look forward to it.
Ms. Connolly is also writing as Sarah Atwell, providing Berkley Crime with the Glassblower Series. Through a Glass, Deadly and Pane of Death are similar in tone and style to One Bad Apple and also well worth reading.
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Meg Corey has recently been laid off from her banking job in Boston.Read more