Apple Orchard Mysteries, Books 4 – 6

Berried Alive

Developer Hank Rosenberg is determined to build a Massive Mart in tiny Pine Grove, no matter how opposed or organized the citizenry. But just hours before construction is scheduled to begin, Chelsea and Miss May find the demon developer dead in the site’s construction trailer, face down in one of the Every Berry pies Miss May handed out a few hours earlier at a tense public meeting.

While sorting through Rosenberg’s briefcase, the trio finds several interesting documents, such as a ledger with an entry for every politician the developer ever bribed, including $300,000 to Pine Grove mayor Linda Delgado, and divorce papers served by his wife, Susan, but never signed by Hank.

The ladies also discover that Hank had a sibling who was literally cut out of the family’s life, and now Hank was invading their privacy in a show of pure nastiness.

And while Detective Wayne has been in New York City for months testifying in a trial, he doesn’t call Chelsea during most of his absence, which renders her receptive to the nerdy charms of Germany Turtle, the only child of the recently-murdered Reginald and Linda Turtle. Unlike his parents, he’s a nebbishly charming young man, and Chelsea finds him refreshingly open and honest, unlike a certain police officer with whom she shared a slow dance a few months earlier.

Unlike the vast and endless aisles of a Massive Mart, Chelsea, Miss May, and Teeny discover that Hank’s murderer is close to home and hearth, hidden in plain sight where no one, not even the killer, expected to be disturbed.

Granny Smith is Dead

When hated Pine Grove busybody Dolores “Granny” Smith is found dead in a tunnel under an historic house, finding a suspect proves hard, because their numbers are countless. Just about everyone in town is considered, including her ex-husband, son, former friends, several business owners, and quite a few local families.

Several town residents who were on Granny Smith’s bad side provide alibis to Chelsea and Miss May as exoneration, but these pose as many questions as answers. One particular suspect stands out, although when the obnoxious oaf is found stabbed in the same tunnel, the duo is baffled.

After turning to Teeny’s new crush, mechanic Big Dan, for help, they think they’ve solved the murders, but soon realize the evidence was a crystal-clear set up. Acknowledging that this particular crime involves two killers, Chelsea and Miss May finally connect the clues hidden in plain sight and apprehend both murderers.

Detective Wayne still doesn’t take Chelsea’s dismissal serious, so she’s delighted when Germany Turtle turns up at the right time and proves that devoted swains don’t have to be tall, dark, and handsome. Let’s hear it for the nerds!

Candy Slain

Hours after her sister, Dee Dee, is spotted arguing with the town’s new Santa, Miss May finds Orville Starr, said Santa, stabbed to death in the park gazebo … with a candy cane speared through his neck. Dee Dee has been sucking candy canes like there going out of business, so she’s an instant suspect and is immediately arrested, so if course Miss May and Chelsea have to step in.

Then Lincoln, a tiny man with a loooong beard, shows up in town, angrily grieving Orville’s death. He claims they worked together as Santa and his elf.

But that’s not what Linda, Orville’s wife, says. She and Orville were Mr & Mrs Claus, and they never worked with an elf.

As confusion swirls, another murder occurs, adding credence to Dee Dee’s plea that she’s not a killer. But who is?

Plus Detective Wayne keeps pursuing Chelsea as a “friend,” even though she and Germany are inching toward … something.

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