Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
HAUNTED HAYRIDE WITH MURDER (September 25th 2018 by St. Martin's Press) by Auralee Wallace is the 6th novel in the Otter Lake Mystery series. Erica Bloom and her friend Freddie are working security at the local apple orchard during the Halloween season. Between monitoring the guests at the haunted hayride and haunted barn, they are tasked with chasing off the teenagers who are roaming the woods in search of the Apple Witch. The Apple Witch is a local legend - a ghost that haunts the apple orchard in October. The teenagers don't find the Apple Witch, but they do find human remains. Even though Sheriff Grady Forrester seems to have the investigation under control, Erica and the rest of the Otter Lake Security team take it upon themselves to look into the cold case and determine if the Apple Witch is real or not.
HAUNTED HAYRIDE WITH MURDER is the first Otter Lake Mystery that I've read, and, after reading it, I'm not inspired to check out the rest of the series. I just could not bring myself to like the main character, Erica Bloom. I'm not sure how old the character is supposed to be - I'm guessing early 30s - but she behaves likes a teenager. To be honest, most of the characters, regardless of their age, behave like a bunch of teenagers. They refer to murder as "did the thing" and a committed relationship as "closer friendship". The relationship between Erika and Sheriff Grady came off as juvenile, and their interactions were very off-putting. I also felt the twist at the end was a major letdown since discovering the killer's identity really didn't resolve anything.
If you're looking for a quick, mindless read that is low on suspense, you might want to check out HAUNTED HAYRIDE WITH MURDER. Just don't expect there to be more than a brief mention or two of the haunted hayride.