I scanned the trees with my flashlight. “I think we’ve found our—Freddie? Where did you go?” I spun my flashlight around only to have it land on him perched atop a boulder at the side of the trail. “What are you doing? Get down from there.”
It’s almost Halloween, and this year Erica and Freddie’s company, Otter Lake Security (hashtag OLS) is overseeing festivities at the Honeycutt Apple Orchard. Erica thinks it will be a fun gig. Why wouldn’t it be? There’s a haunted barn, a creepy corn maze, and Grandma Honeycutt’s heavenly apple crumble. The only drawback, really, is Freddie. Local legend claims the orchard woods are haunted by the Apple Witch, and Freddie is terrified he’ll run in to her. Their employee, Rhonda’s, insistence on “thirty-one days of horror” movie nights has only amplified his fears. But as long as Erica can talk Freddy down from the boulders, it should all be fine, right?
Then a boot is found, along with a decomposing foot, and even though Erica is insistent that she is not investigating the case, she so is.
- Otter Lake at Halloween is filled with vegan Halloween treats, several costume changes, and the odd pumpkin catapult here and there. Oh, and a hideous Apple Witch who lures young men into the woods. Or lures young women—it depends on who is telling the story. It’s also a candy-filled pumpkin pail of fun.
I love this. Absolutely love it all, from the story’s zany humor to its quirky characters. This is not unexpected; I am a huge fan of this series. And I’m a sucker for Halloween mysteries, so it is a bit of a given that I was going to enjoy this one. The story moves swiftly and is filled with plenty of suspects. There is also the slightest touch of romance (and a hilarious callback on a covered bridge to their previous romantic entanglements) as Erica and Grady try to navigate their “friendship” to a “closer friendship”. The possibly haunted orchard provides a great setting for the mystery. I just really, truly, had a great time reading this one.
Is Otter Lake for everyone? No, of course not. I grew up watching madcap movies from the 30s and 40s and listening to old radio programs like The Jack Benny Show and The Aldrich Family. Wallace’s humor reminds me a lot of those, and honestly, not everyone enjoys crackerjack one-liners or slapstick scenarios in their mysteries. But if you, like me, do, you will not be disappointed in Haunted Hayride with Murder.