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Retro Reading: Sour Apples by Sheila Connolly

Updated on May 13, 2022
Sixth installment of the Orchard Mysteries
Sixth installment of the Orchard Mysteries

There's a Worm In This Installment

Sheila Connolly is probably the hardest writer I've ever reviewed since she's writing two mystery series at the same time. I know she puts a lot of time into her research, but ultimately, the sixth installment of her orchard mysteries just doesn't work.

As Sour Apples begins Meg Corey finally seems to be relaxing a little. She's been living in Granford, MA for almost a year and lived through her first apple crop season. Meg's really grown up since the first installment.

Within the year that she's been living in Granford, she's solved murders and another one is about to happen. Of course she doesn't know it.

After meeting dairy farmer, Joyce Truesdell, through her love interest Seth Chapin, Joyce is concerned that there's something afoul with her land. Her cows are in danger of lead poisoning and it has already cost two of them their lives. Joyce meets her demise when it appears as though she was kicked in the head while doing daily milking, but that's not the case.

While Meg begins putting the pieces together, she must also deal with her friend from Boston, who's quit her banking job and joined the exploratory campaign of one of Granford's favorite sons, Rick Sainsbury. Lauren, Meg's friend, stays with her for a few days while Rick is off campaigning, but Seth has never been a staunch Rick fan so this leads to some tension between Meg and Lauren.

Seth won't tell Meg why he can't stand Sainsbury and when the two of them put their heads together, they feel that Lauren may be in danger. Afterall, the prodigal son returns home and a murder happens. Could it be pure coincidence or did Rick really want Joyce dead?

With this installment, Connolly mixes the two deadliest of sins together- murder and politics. What's lacking is the campaign itself. Lauren just spends the night at Meg's and is out by daybreak for another round of campaigning. Meg's too busy planting trees (or making coffee) and Seth seems to brood whenever Rick's name is mentioned. I think if Lauren had possibly recruited Meg as a volunteer then maybe there would have been a little more of a story.

Connolly has always been quite thorough in the operation of the orchard but misses the mark as far as the campaign goes. I think I would have preferred that over the bossiness of Meg's hired orchard Bree. Which brings me to another point.

Generally, in a series you have irritating characters who come and go but Bree just hangs on. Her character may be essential but she really needs to go. I don't think she's likeable, she's snotty, has an attitude that she's better than everyone and I wish Meg would just get rid of her. Okay, maybe I'm sounding too much like Annie Wilkes, but when you've come this far in a series the readers want change!

I wasn't really a fan of this installment since it moved at a much slower pace and whenever Bree entered the picture I zoned out.


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