“Tyson’s first-rate second Greenhouse mystery stars big-city lawyer turned small-town organic farmer Megan Sawyer, a kind, intelligent, and spirited woman with great integrity. In short, she’s the sort of person cozy readers warm to and root for...Tyson populates the cast with a smug-but-attractive PR consultant, a temperamental-but-gifted chef, a shrewd and sexy Scottish vet, and assorted townspeople, whose motives are complex and believable. It’s a pleasure to spend time in their company.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Megan Sawyer should be shouting from the barn roof. Washington Acres survived its first year, the café has become a hotspot for locals, and Winsome’s sexy Scottish veterinarian is making house calls—only not for the animals. But as summer slips into fall and Winsome prepares for its grand Oktoberfest celebration, beer isn’t the only thing brewing.
When the town’s pub owner is killed in a freak accident, Megan suspects something sinister is afoot in Winsome—but no one is listening. As nights grow longer and temperatures chill, Megan must plow through Winsome’s fixation with autumn festivities to harvest the truth—before another dead body marks the season.
“Bitter Harvest is a delightful read. It has everything you could want in a mystery—a spunky heroine with a charming love interest, quirky characters, a setting you desperately want to visit, and a plot that keeps you guessing!” – Amanda Lee, Author of Better Off Thread
“An exceptional cozy, Bitter Harvest offers up a veritable feast for mystery fans: a beautifully drawn setting, engaging characters, and plenty of twists and turns that will keep readers guessing. The suspense deepens with every scene…Tyson has crafted a fresh, intelligent, compelling story that’s sure to satisfy.” – Cynthia Kuhn, Author of The Art of Vanishing
“A perfectly-crafted smorgasbord of suspense, family drama and small-town intrigue.” – Liz Mugavero, Agatha-Nominated Author of Custom Baked Murder
Related subjects include: women sleuths, cozy mysteries, culinary mysteries, amateur sleuth books, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations.
Books in the Greenhouse Mystery Series:
A MUDDIED MURDER (#1)
BITTER HARVEST (#2)
SEEDS OF REVENGE (Winter 2017)
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you’ll probably like them all…
Author Bio: Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again on a micro-farm with her husband, three sons and three dogs. Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers’ online magazines. Wendy is the author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The harvest moon glowed bright overhead, a burnt offering to the demons plaguing Megan's peace of mind. The woods beyond Washington Acres felt inviting — until nightfall. It was early October, the start of fall foliage season, and by day the leaves on the oaks, birch, and mountain ash shone bright in a rainbow of reds, golds, and deep oranges. But once darkness hit, the ghosts emerged. Or so it seemed.
Halloween was just a few weeks away, and the pace on the farm had finally lulled to a more comfortable frenzy. Most of the summer crops had been picked and sold, and what was left had been canned, frozen, stored, or donated. The fields were being turned over and planted with cover crops like clover and daikon radish. The fall bounty was just coming in, and Megan had enough pumpkins to supply a dozen fall festivals. Autumn had been kinder than the previous spring, and the October air was cool but not cold, dry but not arid. The farm's coffers, too, were full — well, at least not empty.
Megan should have felt content. Pleased, even.
Then why this feeling of unrest? Megan opened the door to the porch and stepped outside into the chilly night. Overhead, the stars were eclipsed by the reddish, eerie moon. Gunther and Sadie, her two dogs, ran out behind her. Gunther, a Polish Tatra Sheepdog, took off for his nightly rounds, checking on the chickens and goats and monitoring the perimeter of the farm just as Megan and Dr. Finn had trained him to do. Sadie stayed pressed to her side. Megan reached down to pat Sadie, taking comfort from the dog's warm presence.
But she couldn't shake the image of the chair.
Oh, she knew very well that it was just a chair. A battered red Adirondack seat, the kind you see at homes all across the United States. Nothing scary about that. Except that this one wasn't parked on a patio or beside a pool in some suburban lot. It sat alone at the top of Potter Hill, in the woods — the same thick woods that bordered her property.
Megan had hiked up there yesterday, seduced by blue skies and the allure of those fiery leaves. Out of breath, with Sadie beside her and Gunther running up ahead, she reached the top of Potter Hill and spied the chair. Her first thought was one of gratitude — how nice it was to have somewhere to sit after a grueling climb. But after she lowered herself into the chair, she realized it was oddly positioned. It didn't take advantage of the sweeping view of the valley below or the red-hewn tree line in the distance.
It did, however, have a clear view of her house.
Megan had hopped out of the seat, still thinking it was purely a coincidence. Whoever had placed the chair there had done so on a whim, and they had probably paid no attention to how it was situated. But when she stood and examined the spot, she realized she was wrong. The ground under the chair's legs had divots where the base had worn into the dirt, and the grass and foliage near the foot area, thick elsewhere, had been trampled from frequent traffic. Where Megan's feet had rested, the earth was worn bare.
Spooked, she'd called the dogs and raced back to the house. In the comfort of her kitchen, she'd decided she was overreacting. So what if someone had been sitting alone on Potter Hill. So what if their chair faced this property. What could they possibly see from that far away?
But now, as she stared into the dark woods under the glow of the autumn moon, Megan realized her earlier angst had been warranted. With a good set of binoculars, someone could see quite a bit from that spot. Like her comings and goings. And the times she and Bibi were alone.
* * *
The Washington Acres Café and Larder was abuzz. Megan was happy to see a small line waiting to pay by the front register. She scanned the space, letting her gaze travel over the well-stocked shelves and back toward the kitchen. She spotted Alvaro Hernandez, the café's beloved, if not slightly grumpy, cook. Only today, "slightly grumpy" didn't quite capture it. The scowl that covered the bottom half of his face was rivaled only by a pair of tightly knit gray bushy eyebrows.
"Morning, Alvaro," she said.
Her chef grunted in reply.
The café had only been up and running for six months, but already it was starting to feel like a Winsome hub, a place where townspeople came to pick up necessities like homegrown vegetables, canned goods, and local pastured meats, and — increasingly — a place where they met to dine and socialize. In fact, the café had regulars, a number of men and a few women, who'd started to call themselves the Breakfast Club. They began meeting twice a week over the summer to plan for Winsome's Oktoberfest celebration, but even after most of the details had been ironed out, they continued to show up. And now they were there almost daily. That's what seemed to have piqued Alvaro's impatience today.
"More coffee, Alvaro," one of the men called.
"I'll have some too," another yelled. "And maybe a muffin. Cranberry orange."
Alvaro shot Megan a look of exasperation.
"I'll get the coffees," Megan said.
In the kitchen, she shuffled around the cook, making a fresh pot of brew. The air was rich with the aromas of sautéed onions and peppers and the pungent, sweet scent of cinnamon. Alvaro was pouring brown batter into muffin cups, his hands moving swiftly with graceful agility. He popped the muffins in the commercial oven and walked over to the sink. He was short and slender with a long, drawn face and a shocking mop of white hair. But his eyes — hazelnut brown and surprisingly kind — shone with keen awareness. Alvaro owned no poker face.
"I have to watch every ingredient when Ted Kuhl is here. All those allergies. And Albert Nunez is causing trouble again," Alvaro muttered under his breath. "Six cups of coffee." He waved a dishtowel, his face turning red. "No more. I should charge him for the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth."
"That man's a freeloader." But Alvaro's voice had softened, as it normally did when he was speaking to his boss. "You want to make a profit here? You can't let these men sit and loiter."
Megan glanced out at the café section of the store. When she'd agreed to leave her Chicago law practice and return to her hometown of Winsome in Eastern Pennsylvania, she knew it would be hard reinventing the farm and the old store, but things were slowly coming together. She wanted the café to be a meeting place for the locals. Hadn't that been her vision all along? Sure, they tended to sit and talk for hours, sometimes racking up nearly nonexistent bills. And yes, they were loud. But they congregated at odd times, so there was usually room for other customers, and they were always polite. Alvaro was just sore that he had to keep an eye on these gents rather than cooking. The answer, perhaps, was to eventually hire another server — not to kick out her most loyal customers.
Suddenly a loudly yelled "Damn it, Lou," caught Megan's attention.
Albert Nunez seemed to be picking an argument with Lou Brazzi, Winsome's sometimes real estate attorney. Brazzi was giving Nunez a bemused smile, all the while stirring packet after packet of sugar into his coffee. Nunez caught Megan looking at him and lowered his head. He glanced sideways, at the opposite end of the long table, and tried to catch the attention of Ted Kuhl. Only Kuhl, one of the town's two beer brewers, seemed lost in thought.
Kuhl shared space at his end of the table with Winsome's other brewer, the owner of Otto's Brew Pub, who sat with his arms crossed on the table. A furious gash of a mouth marred his otherwise handsome features. Wearing gray wool pants, a white button-down, and a gray vest, Otto had the distinguished good looks of a man addicted to clean living and fresh air. He was usually a gentle man, quick with a kind word or compliment. Anger didn't suit him.
"It's not fair, Lou, and you know it," Nunez was saying. "Whoever gets that sponsorship has a helluva good quarter."
Brazzi shook his head.
"A lottery is a lottery."
"Not when it's rigged," Ted said. His eyes were bloodshot, his face ashen under the ruddy veneer.
It took Megan a moment to realize what they were talking about: Oktoberfest. Otto Vance had proposed the idea more than a year ago during one of the Historical Society sessions, and the town representatives jumped on it like ants on a donut. His vision had been modest — a few tents, some authentic German food provided by his brew pub, a band — but as with a lot of things, many hands made more work. After a year's worth of planning, the upcoming Oktoberfest was to be a week-long affair that would showcase the town's small businesses. The Society had hired a public-relations expert to run the festival, and businesses — including Megan's — were scrambling to sponsor specific events. Sponsorship meant advertising and exposure, and with several thousand visitors expected, a lottery had been put into place to ensure fairness. Apparently not everyone thought the lottery was working as intended.
"That's a serious allegation, Teddy." Lou's eyes narrowed. "You shouldn't be walking around saying that. It could get you into trouble."
"I'm already in trouble."
"You need some sleep." Nunez's voice was unusually gentle. The former union negotiator and rabid Phillies fan could be abrasive, but he stared at Ted with genuine worry. "Get some perspective."
"Blame me, go ahead. I'm not the issue here." Ted turned sharply toward Otto, who looked ready to pounce.
"Can I get anyone anything else?" Megan asked, interrupting before an argument could break out. She eyed the group.
Nunez turned his attention to Megan. He rubbed his ample belly. "Bonnie make any more of that apple strudel she's known for? With ice cream, maybe?"
"No apple strudel," Alvaro called from behind the counter. "You ate the last of it." The cook scowled, then disappeared into the pantry.
"You might want to find some friendlier help," Nunez grumbled.
"Don't even suggest that," Brazzi said. "We finally have someone around here who can cook."
"How about a slice of pound cake?" Megan said. "I think we have some left over from yesterday."
Nunez said, "Nah, not now. I'm okay, Megan."
The thick tension in the café caused Megan to pause outside of the kitchen. A look passed between Ted Kuhl and Brazzi. The lawyer mouthed something to Ted. Whatever Brazzi said, it caused Ted to stand up suddenly and storm toward the window. He stared outside, shook his head violently back and forth, and turned toward the table of men. His mouth struggled to form words that never materialized. After a painful pregnant moment, Ted let out a low moan. He pulled his wallet roughly out of his pocket and threw a twenty on the table.
Otto flew from his seat. He grabbed Kuhl by the arm and pulled him to the side, near the kitchen entrance. Noticing the alarm on Ted's face, Otto took a step back, but his hands remained clenched, his jaw tight. Megan busied herself folding dishtowels, but she could hear much of their conversation. She felt her own body tense.
"Knock it off," Otto said. "Let it go, for everyone's sake."
"We both know how that will end." Ted thrust his chest out. "Don't be a fool, Otto. This isn't what you wanted. It's not what anyone wants. Not really." Kuhl's eyes burrowed into Otto's, hot coals of accusation.
"Bugger off," Otto said.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you? 'Ignorance is bliss' and all that happy horse manure."
Otto closed the distance between him and Kuhl. He whispered something in Kuhl's ear, something Megan couldn't hear.
Ted stood there listening, hands clawed by his side, face red. While Otto was still speaking, Ted tore away and sprinted out of the café.
Megan glanced at the men around the table, noticing their reactions. She watched Brazzi watch Ted go, his face expressionless. She saw Nunez return to his newspaper. But Otto Vance sat back down, his brooding form throwing a shadow across the shiny copper table top.
Megan was about to speak when her cell phone rang. A glance at her screen told her it was Clay Hand, her farm manager. She looked back at the men, still wondering what had turned these Dr. Jekylls into Mr. Hydes, and continued into the kitchen to take her call. Oktoberfest had everyone on edge. Like the harvest moon, surely this too would pass — and tempers would be back to normal.
In the relative privacy of the café's kitchen, Megan answered the call.
"Hey," she said. "What's going on back at the farm?"
"I hiked up to Potter Hill, but there was no chair."
"You're joking." Only she knew he wasn't. Clay's voice was dead serious.
"I wish I were. There is no chair. In fact, I couldn't even locate the spot you referred to."
"Maybe you were in the wrong area?"
"Top of Potter Hill, facing the farm. We zig-zagged our way back and forth across the area — and nothing. Two of Bobby's men were with me."
Clay got quiet for a second. "Are you sure that's where you saw it?"
Megan's spine stiffened. She knew what she'd seen and where she'd seen it, and the fact that it was gone now made her that much more concerned.
Appearing to read her mind, Clay said, "Look, I have to ask because I know Bobby will." Bobby was Chief Bobby King, Winsome's youngest-ever police chief. "Plus," Clay continued, "I'd almost prefer if you'd misplaced the chair's location, because if it's gone the day after you spotted it, that means —"
"That someone saw me up there." Megan finished his thought. What she didn't add was, because they were probably spying on me. She was pretty sure Clay was thinking it.
The silence that ensued was thick with unspoken memories. A bloodied, battered body in Megan's barn. An intruder with murder on their mind. And something Megan would remember but Clay would not — a secret separating her from the rest of Winsome. From the rest of her family. Was it possible whoever placed that chair on Potter Hill knew about the treasure buried somewhere on Washington Acres' property? Megan figured anything was possible. History had taught her that.
The steady contented activity from Alvaro's corner of the kitchen had stopped, and the café was suddenly quiet. Megan looked over to see Alvaro watching her, his lined face scrunched with worry. Megan immediately regretted having the conversation in the kitchen. She also regretted not taking a photo of the chair when she'd had a chance. She'd been too spooked to stay there — and now her haste was backfiring on her.
"Look, Clay," she said, forcing her voice to sound cheerful, "it's no biggie. It was a folding Adirondack chair. Someone probably enjoyed a picnic at the top of Potter Hill and packed it up when they were done."
"Uh-huh," Clay said, sounding thoroughly unconvinced.
"Besides, we have a ton to do. Washington Acres Café and Larder won one of the restaurant lottery spots, so Bibi is baking later this morning and Alvaro will have his hands full. If we win the farm sponsorship, none of us will sleep for the next few weeks."
"When will you hear?"
"Should be later today." Megan glanced at Alvaro, now back to chopping. "I need to go, Clay. I'll leave here shortly. And then we can tackle the remaining pumpkins and take inventory."
"In case we win?"
"Whether we win the lottery or not, with so many expected visitors in Winsome over a week-long period, our produce will sell — through the farm or through the café."
"Still, it'd be a real boost if we won that lottery. Help to get our name out there. Whoever sponsors is in all the advertisements and brochures."
"True." Megan considered the scene she'd walked into in the café. "It seems everyone feels that way. Funny how a little healthy competition can turn friends into frenemies."CHAPTER 2
By the time Megan left the café, she'd forgotten about the lottery and the Oktoberfest celebration. The next two hours after Clay's phone call had been taken up by a mad rush of customer orders, a broken bathroom faucet, and a trip to the hardware store. With the bathroom finally back in working order, Megan finally turned into the driveway at Washington Acres. Sadie ran to greet her, a worshipping Gunther trotting behind.
Megan bent down to pet the dogs, then headed toward the door that led to the enclosed porch and into the kitchen. Clay was up at the barn — she could see him sorting pumpkins into the bin for Saturday's farmers market. She glanced at her watch. It was nearly noon. The day had already gotten away from her.
Megan was just pulling the door open when her cell phone rang. She pushed her way into the big country kitchen, dropped her belongings onto the table, and glanced at her phone. A number she didn't recognize.
She answered. "Hello?"
"Megan Sawyer of Washington Acres Farm?"
"This is Ophelia Dilworth. From the Oktoberfest committee."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Bitter Harvest"
Copyright © 2016 Wendy Tyson.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This new series is off to a good start if second book as good then looks like a found a must read author
The rural town of Winsome PA depends on tourists to book their economy. Megan Sawyer, lawyer turned organic farmer, and her Grandma Bibi, continue to operate Washington Acres farm and carfe and are becoming well known and profitable. When the town decides to have an Oktoberfest to showcase small farms and other operations, Megan applies to be a sponsor. When the committee brings in PR professional Ophelia Dilworth, she takes over the planning and the smaller operations are overlooked for a couple of larger ones, not the most popular decision. Things take a deadly turn when one of the local business owners and sponsors, is killed in a freak accident. Only Megan doesn’t think it was an accident. When the police are quick to rule out the possibility of murder, it’s up to Megan to figure out what is really happening. Tyson’s Greenhouse mystery series showcases protagonist Megan Sawyer, a big-city lawyer turned small-town organic farmer. I like Megan, she is a kind, intelligent, and spirited woman with integrity. This book is populated with several other wonderful characters such as a smug-but-attractive PR consultant, a temperamental-but-gifted chef, a shrewd and sexy Scottish vet, and assorted townspeople, whose motives are complex and believable. I loved the first book in the series and was anxious to return to Winsome and the characters. This book didn’t disappoint in the least. Megan’s personal life provided a nice sub-plot while leaving plenty of time for the murder investigation, which included some great twists and turns. As the relationship between Megan and Dr. Denver Finn develops, it is nice to see Megan working her way through her insecurities and doubts. There are also her interactions with her aunt that add a personal tone as she tries to find out more about her father's and mother's relationship. This is not just your easy breezy cozy, there is a bit more substance to it, that make it just a bit more enjoyable to me. I recommend this book and series to cozy mystery lovers everywhere.
I love this series! Characters and story lines are incredibly engaging, and Ms. Tyson's descriptive style of writing paints a lovely image of the town.
I've read both books in the this series and, while I enjoyed the first, the second, “Bitter Harvest” takes the series storyline and elevates it. The first book spent a lot of time introducing the characters and now that the reader of the series should be familiar with them, the plot is the focus in this book. I kept guessing the whodunnit but the ending was a surprise to me though there were certainly some clues left. Once again, we are back in Winsome, PA and the town is preparing for their first Oktoberfest celebration. When a death occurs, the authorities aren't sure if it was an accident or if something more dastardly is afoot. Megan Sawyer, the lawyer turned organic farmer, has her own opinions. That there are some mysterious and sinister happenings at her farm feed into her suspicions. She is pulled into investigating and keeps coming up with more and more that the authorities continue to downplay. Is it because the clues are false leads or is it because the town wants their image pristine for the tourists who will visit during Oktoberfest? The relationships continue to grow in the story. Existing ones go to new levels and potentially new ones seem to be appearing on the horizon. I really enjoyed this book, characters and plot. I especially liked being kept on the edge of my seat trying to figure it out. I will look forward to new books in this series in the future. I highly suggest reading the books in order so you can understand the character development. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
Title: Bitter Harvest - Greenhouse Mystery Book 2 Author: Wendy Tyson Publisher: Henery Press Published 3-7-2017 Pages: 272 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub-Genre: Amateur Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Culinary Mystery; Crafts & Hobbies ISBN: 9781635111736 ASIN: B01NAH6U8Y Reviewed For NetGalley and Henery Press Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.75 stars When Otto Vance is found dead, there us a question if it was an accidental death or murder. Was his Pub being selected as the beer distributor for Oktoberfest be a motive or perhaps it is the underhanded mismanagement of the competition for the vegetable farm or meat. Megan Sawyer seems to be the only one who believes it was murder. With a wealth of interesting characters and a well thought out plot Bitter Harvest is a fast paced story that captivates your interest and won't let you go. The Greenhouse Mysteries are a wonderful source of enjoyment and I look forward to seeing where it will go next. My rating of Bitter Harvest is 4.75 out of 5 stars.
Megan Sawyer has settled in as an organic farmer. The town of Winsome is gearing up for Oktoberfest and the free publicity the farm will receive rankles some. I even had a few chills at the beginning, when Tyson wrote of Megan finding an Adirondack chair, sitting atop a hill near the farm, facing her very own home. The characters are well written and intelligent, just what I am looking for in a good mystery.
Dollycas’s Thoughts This is our second visit to Winsome, Pennsylvania and we are just in time the Oktoberfest celebration. The whole town wants their farm, store, pub or restaurant to be a main sponsor for the celebration and some feathers get ruffled when the select spots go to unsuspected places. In fact, when a pub owner is killed Megan doesn’t think it was truly an accident, but would someone actually kill because they weren’t chosen? So while getting the family farm and store ready for the celebration she is also trying to pick the killer and it isn’t as easy as picking a pepper or a pumpkin. This was a pretty complex mystery with several suspects, means, and motives. Megan has gotten through her first year and both the café and the farm are doing very well. She has even found time to spend with a certain veterinarian. That is until she gets wrapped up in this investigation. I knew she was a strong woman in the first story but she seems much more confident now as she has settled in. Her grandmother, another strong woman reminds me a lot of my mother. Determined, respected and not afraid to speak her mind. Dr. Denver Finn was extremely busy throughout the story taking care of a sick horse and other emergencies but he was still able to carve out time for Megan. All the characters a very believable and appealing. Their dialogue rings true, including Denver’s Scottish accent. As I said the mystery is complex, in fact there are two mysteries to solve. Ms. Tyson entangles the plots together so well, weaving them together with deception, secrets, and untruths. I enjoyed doing my best to figure it all out before Megan but the ending was a complete surprise. This one will grab you from the start and you will have a very hard time putting down.
This is the second in the series of Wendy Tyson's greenhouse series and the mysteries of Megan's background is till unfolding as one plot. A lot of suspense and secrets involved in this one. The main plot of the book is that it's October and the town of Winsome is holding an Octoberfest. There is major contention in that most of the townsfolk are not happy with the farm picked to be the major sponsor for the event. The farm picked gets a lot of free publicity. Seeing as this is an event that is supposed to be helping out the little farmers and the biggest farmer becomes the sponsor. The whole town is seeing red. Not only that, several people on the committee are turning up either dead or missing. What's going on in Winsome? A fun, entertaining and enjoyable read. This one becomes pretty sinister just for a little advertising or is that all that's going on in the little town of Winsome? Thanks to Henery Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this second in the Greenhouse series by Wendy Tyson. Meghan is proud that her farm has survived a year but she is greatly disappointed in the decisions regarding the Oktoberfest celebration. Feeling slighted that a local small farm wasn't chosen to represent the festival, Megan is even more curious when a dead body turns up. Megan can't help but ask questions regarding the festival and this leaves a sour taste in some mouths. This story was well written and well thought out. I enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading more in this series I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.
Author Wendy Tyson has created a series that is absolutely wonderful in every way! It has felt like such a long wait for this second installment in the Greenhouse Mysteries to come out. But after reading A MUDDIED MURDER, the first book in this series, a day would have felt like too long! I was so excited when I finally got my hands on BITTER HARVEST. Once it was in my grasp, and I started reading, I couldn’t set it down! I was finally back in Winsome, PA with Megan, Bibi, Finn, Clover, King, and all the townspeople. It felt liking going home. As I write this, I’m actually sad that I had to say goodbye. (No worries though. The next book is due out this fall!) BITTER HARVEST is a brilliantly clever book in every way. Wendy Tyson brought to us in this story, not just one mystery, but two! There is of course one heck of a whodunit murder to be solved. But there is a secondary mystery involving someone close to Megan that made this a real bushel full of mystery, and an even more exciting read. I want to say more, but I’d risk giving things away. Ms. Tyson is an exciting voice in the cozy mystery genre, and nothing proves that better than this amazing book, or I should say, this amazing series! Fans, prepare to be thrilled. New readers, pick up A MUDDIED MURDER and BITTER HARVEST and you’ll have the fun of getting to read them back to back!
Murderous Oktoberfest Last year, I was completely taken with the first Greenhouse Mystery, and I’ve been counting down until I could revisit the characters. That day has finally arrived as Bitter Harvest is ready, and it’s wonderfully fun. It’s October in the town of Winsome, Pennsylvania, and for small farmer Megan Sawyer, not only does it mean harvest time but also Oktoberfest. This is the first year that the town has celebrated it, an idea of Otto Vance, a local brewer with German roots. It’s going to be a week-long celebration highlighting the local small farms and businesses. In fact, Megan’s café and store, featuring foods grown on her farm, is one of the sponsors of the event. However, not everyone is happy. Megan witnesses a fight between Otto and another brewer over who should be the major brewery sponsor. Later that day, Otto’s body is found in the middle of the local solar power field. It looks like an accident – Otto hit his head on the corner of one of the panels. But Megan isn’t so sure since that explanation leaves her with too many questions, like what was Otto doing in the field in the first place. With the police busy with the added security needed for the upcoming event, it’s up to Megan to learn the truth. Is she reading too much into what happened? Or is there a killer in town? I fell in love with the first book because of the characters. It was wonderful to revisit them, and fans of the first book will find they are just as strong here. It’s been six months between books, and that has allowed the characters some time to grow. It is there is subtle things, and I really liked seeing it as it continues the character depth I loved in the first book. The characters introduced in this book are just as strong as the series regulars. Another thing I liked about the first book is how the mystery feed into Megan learning about some family history. The family history portion was kept to a sub-plot this time, but it was another satisfying chapter in her life. That means there is plenty of time for the main mystery. That’s a good thing because it seems like there is always something happening to confuse us. People are not always what they appear, and they work hard to keep their secrets from coming out, which is perfect for a page turning story. As Megan untangles the many branches of the book, things slowly become clear to her and to us, although I was still surprised by the climax. With all the food talk in the book, it’s no surprise that the book includes a recipe. This time around, it is for Rustic Potatoes au Gratin. With strong characters and an engaging plot, Bitter Harvest is hard to put down. I was finished all too quickly, and I’m looking forward to visiting these friends again very soon. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Bitter Harvest is the second book in Wendy Tyson's Greenhouse Mystery series. Megan Sawyer, environmental lawyer turned organic farmer, is working hard to prepare for small town Winsome, PA's Oktoberfest. Proposed by small town brewer and restauranteur Otto Vance with the idea of promoting the small farms and businesses of Winsome, the planning seems to have taken over and changed the theme of the event. Instead of small organic farms being highlighted, the large Sauer farm known for animal cruelty and lack of organic methods has taken center stage. And instead of small award winning Road Master Brewery being chosen as the face of the festival, it is Vance Brewery with its mediocre brews that is chosen. This makes Megan question the proceedings, coming toe to toe with event PR planner Ophelia Dilworth. If that were not enough to weigh upon Megan, it appears that someone has been spying on her and her farm from atop Potter's Hill. When the owner of Vance Brewery dies under questionable circumstances and the owner of Road Master Brewery goes missing, Megan is caught up in a web of lies, deceit, and the mysterious plot to capture more than just the limelight in a country festival. Fast-paced and nail biting, Wendy Tyson has again spun a page turning mystery that pulls you in until the very end. And even then, there is another mystery afoot for Megan to untangle. I do recommend this book.
The return trip to Winsome, PA, was as fun as my first visit (see A Muddied Murder) - the land is colorful, the people friendly, and the county deadly. Megan, a somewhat discouraged lawyer, has inherited the family farm. In order to help it thrive, she has opened a small farm stand near the farm and a small diner in town - both serving home grown vegetables and meats. Now harvest season has arrived and the town is proposing the first ever Oktoberfest to showcase the town's small businesses. It only takes a couple of murders and one large farm to make a hornet’s nest out of the small community’s plans. Megan, her family, her farm hands, her chef, Alvaro, and the local veterinarian, Dr. Daniel “Denver” Finn, would work with the Bobby King, the local police chief, to find the motive, culprit, and save Oktoberfest from the trash heap. Having lived in small towns and having good friends with a local farm stand, I have an appreciation for the environment in which Megan finds herself. Oktoberfest does come off - with only a few hitches along the way. And the nasty schemes of unscrupulous behavior of community members will come to light. This book will hold the interest of the farmer, the small town dweller, and the cozy mystery reader. And though being published in the Spring of 2017, it would serve as wonderful entertainment during the cooler days of Fall. Thank you Wendy Tyson for another great book. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.