by Lee Hollis
When Hayley Powell, office manager of a Bar Harbor, Maine newspaper, is assigned to write a food and cocktails column, she doesn't know what kind trouble she stirs up. After her first column, a competing columnist, Karen Applebaum, from the other paper accuses Hayley of stealing the recipe. Then Hayley is engaged in food fight. To top it off, the other columnist steals Hayley's clam chowder recipe, then dies after eating some. Of course, Hayley is the prime suspect. To clear her name, Hayley, along with her friends and brother, must investigate the case. Who could be the murderer? Karen's estranged conspiracy theorist son who lives in the woods? The pharmacist’s wife? What about Karen's ex husband? Or could it be a mysterious lover man of Karen's? Hayley must solve the crime before either she is jailed for murder, or the real murderer kills her!
This debut by Hollis is another in a long line of food related mysteries so popular these days. It a distinctive voice in this sub genre and I enjoyed the new take on a familiar favorite theme, food related mysteries.
Hayley Powell: Divorce for three years, two teenage children, works as an office manager for one of the Bar Harbor newspapers, owns a dog, drives a Suburu, brother is gay and owns a bar, can't parallel park
Sal Moretti: Hayley's boss and owner of the paper, stocky, Italian, likes the gym, but also candy and bourbon, loud, likes hazelnut lattes, used to work at a Boston paper
Liddy Crawford: friend of Hayley's, bossy, real estate agent, auburn curly hair, drives a Mercedes
Mona Barnes: friend of Hayley's, is involved with her family's lobster business, wears no make-up, drives a rusty Dodge pickup, has five kids and is pregnant again.
Lex Bansfield: tall, attractive, dirty blond hair, caretaker at an estate
This story is full of fun and quirky characters – the gay police chief who has trouble with the English language; the egotistical crime beat reporter; and Hayley's typical teenage children. I really enjoyed them and nobody was boring or droll.
Good distinctive voices. Pretty standard conversational fare for these types of mysteries.
Written with food and spirit recipes included in the form of newspaper columns. I enjoyed the humor liberally added, especially the funeral scene. The action is tight, the writing is lighthearted. The narrative flowed well with expected suspense. This is a very good debut. I will be putting Hollis' name on my 'to buy' list for future food and cocktails mysteries.