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Book Review: Golden Malicious by Sheila Connolly

Updated on November 7, 2014
Seventh installment of the Orchard Mysteries
Seventh installment of the Orchard Mysteries

The Great Drought of 2013

So maybe I was a little harsh when I reviewed the last entry in the Orchard Mystery series. Afterall, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then I should have skipped that installment and went right for the seventh installment.

In Golden Malicious Sheila Connolly comes back with an even more intriguing mystery. I wouldn't call it a mystery per say but it's one of those books that make you wonder about the current ecological crisis and relationships in general.

As the seventh installment begins, Meg Corey is woken up by boyfriend Seth Chapin's cellphone ringing. The caller on the other end, Donald Butterfield is in a panic since a drunk driver has crashed through his Victorian home which has been in his family since sometime in the 1700's. Butterfield wants the house fixed exactly as it was prior to the accident. This of course puts a burden on Seth even though he knows he can bring the house to its original form.

Since its summer and a bad drought has been hanging on for a few weeks, Meg tags along with him to the local sawmill owned by Jonas Nash, who can replicate the desired wood for the restoration. After a quick tour of the sawmill, Meg takes a little hike in the forest where she stumbles across the decomposing body of one of Nash's former employees, David Clapp. It's not the body she's fascinated with, but the body of an Asian longhorned beetle which within the last two years had been discovered in Worcester. To everyone's knowledge the bug had been somewhat contained but how did it manage to make its way to Granford?

While the drought continues everyone starts to get a little testy (and for those of us who live in areas where the coolest part of a day could be eighty degrees at six in the morning know we end up dreading the rest of the day) especially Seth after he and Meg have a "serious" conversation as to what each of them wants in their current relationship. Connolly handles this aspect extremely well since we don't know which direction their relationship will go. And of course in the previous installment, they became sort of business partners.

On one of those hot summer nights, Meg invites the crew over for a cookout and as the sun sets they notice a fire in the distance. Not enough to cause damage to Meg's orchards, but this foreshadows events to come and I think Connolly should have dragged this out further. It did indeed bring a lot of tension and could have been spread out over a couple of chapters.

Of course on the downside of the story Meg's orchard manager, Bree is still around and hopefully she'll take a job in another orchard. Although Bree knows her stuff this twenty- something should ride off into the fictional sunset. I don't think she shows the respect Meg deserves even though Meg's the one writing her paycheck.

As an interesting aside, Connolly briefly brings up a few bits from past installments which show that the small town of Granford is expanding rapidly so I think there will be mayhem in Granford with future installments.

And while it may be summer in this installment, I started thinking that during the fall harvest Meg should turn her orchard into a haunted attraction, but something tells me that she's going to be too busy in the next installment.

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