Reviewed by Stephen B for Readers' Favorite
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 of 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 and 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 of Karen's? Hayley must solve the crime before 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 is full of fun and quirky characters – the gay police chief who has trouble with the English language; the egotistical crime beat reporter; Hayley's friend, the lobster woman, who is constantly pregnant; Hayley's typical teenage children; and the attractive caretaker of a wealthy codger's estate. Food and spirit recipes are included, in the form of newspaper columns. I enjoyed the humor liberally added, especially in the funeral scene. The action is tight and the writing is lighthearted. I will be putting Hollis' name on my 'to buy' list for future food and cocktails mysteries.