Deadly To The Core by Joyce Tremel

Deadly to the Core is the first installment of Cider House Mysteries by Joyce Tremel – and it’s a winner!

It’s springtime in the outskirts of Orchardville, Pennsylvania, and Kate Mulligan has just inherited her great Uncle Stan’s fruit orchard. After losing her husband in a horrible accident, she’s desperately trying to rebuild her life.

As soon as she arrives at the farm, she meets Carl, Uncle Stan’s right-hand man. She immediately takes a liking to him and is relieved when he agrees “stay on” as the orchard’s manager.

Upon inspecting her newly acquired property, including the old red barn, she knew exactly what she had to do: open a cider house. It doesn’t take long for the plans to begin. Carl has enlisted the plumber and electrician to get the ball rolling, while Kate irons out the last remaining legal details of her good fortune with Uncle Stan’s lawyer, Robert Larabee.

Legal issues are always scary and unsettling. But for Kate, this is a no-brainer. She’s simply there to give her signature on the paperwork. As she’s ready to sign the final documents, Mr. Larabee tells her that her uncle’s farm has been consistently losing money. She is sure the farm is in the black, but Mr. Larabee insists she is wrong. He also tells her there’s a buyer who is offering her a good price for the ailing property and urges her to accept it.

She immediately dismisses the idea of selling – end of story. This is her new life and she knows she can make the cider house a success. Mr. Larabee is shocked that she flat out turned down a substantial offer – but why would it matter to Uncle Stan’s lawyer?

After Kate discovers a murdered man on her property, she begins to realize that someone has a hidden agenda and, unfortunately, she’s on it! While most of the locals seem very friendly and above board, she suspects the neighboring orchard owner, Daniel Martinez, is hiding something. Mr. Larabee is also applying pressure for her to re-consider selling the farm. Then one by one, she starts hearing about other nearby landowners receiving offers for their land.

Kate also learns that the murder victim had large, unexplained bank deposits. Hush money? Blackmail? Was the victim silenced because he knew too much? And not too long after that, her lawyer simply vanishes into thin air without a trace! He hasn’t even contacted his wife or business partner.

Kate is doing her best to get ready for the grand opening of Red Barn Cider Works – and someone is doing their best to stop her.

I loved Deadly to the Core. Growing up in a small town surrounded by apple orchards galore, I could feel the authenticity of this mystery. The author, Joyce Tremel, has done an outstanding job blending together an interesting plot with home-spun, believable characters in a beautiful orchard setting.

Deadly to the Core is exactly what a cozy mystery is meant to be – entertaining, engaging and simply delightful!

A copy of this book and cover photo were provided by Crooked Lane Publishing.

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