By Lee Hollis
Source: Received from the publisher
Received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:
When Hayley’s idol, cookbook author and TV personality Penelope Janice, invites her to participate in a Fourth of July celebrity cook-off at her seaside estate in Seal Harbor, Maine, Hayley couldn’t be more flattered. She just hopes she can measure up. With a who’s who of famous chefs whipping up their signature dishes, this holiday weekend has all the ingredients for a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience.
Instead, Hayley gets food poisoning her first night and thinks she overhears two people cooking up a murder plot. The next morning, a body is found at the bottom of a cliff. Tragic accident or foul play? To solve a real cliffhanger, Hayley will need to uncover some simmering secrets–before a killer boils over again . . .
Welcome to the Cozy Corner! I am Lil’ Pingwing, Kimmy’s little sister. Once a week I will review a cozy mystery for the blog!
This is the 10th book in the Hailey Powell series, and I must say that it was the best in a while (not to say that any are bad!).
Hailey is invited to participate in a baking competition at the vacation house of Penelope Janice, a celebrity chef, alongside other celebrity chefs. When Hailey overhears a conversation plotting the murder of Penelope, whose husband Conrad subsequently dies after falling over a rocky cliff, Hailey knows she must investigate.
I’ve always been a fan of the Hailey Powell book series. I like how smart and quick she is and I love the relationship she has with her brother and best friends, Mona and Liza. Hailey’s day job is to write a food and drink column in her local newspaper, and I love how the books have her own column at the start of many chapters (along with great food and drink recipes). Because of this, I was incredibly excited when I was given the opportunity to review the most recent in the Hailey Powell series. I’ll admit that I was concerned that I may have too high of hopes for this book, as it is the 10th in the series and sometimes long-running series can run out of ideas, but I quickly discovered this was an unfounded fear and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.
I really enjoyed how many twists and turns this book took in its main plot. The murder mystery always had me guessing, and had a few major surprises at the end that I wasn’t expecting! I don’t want to spoil anything, but the cast of characters made it very difficult to guess who was the guilty party.
(Slight spoiler here) And I was so excited to see Lex back in the book — of all the love interests in Hailey’s life I always had a soft spot for him, so when Hailey discovers he is the caretaker at Penelope’s estate, I was happy to see what would happen between them. Would they get back together? Where had he been? Why was he working for Penelope?
The book also works to further develop the relationship between Hailey and Bruce, her co-worker at the newspaper who covers the crime beat. When he hears about the suspected murder of Conrad during Hailey’s weekend away, he comes up with a cover story as Hailey’s boyfriend to become a guest at the party and help investigate. While this story could be seen as a bit of a trope, I thought it worked really well between these two always-bickering characters and I found that Bruce coming to the estate was when the book really picked up in excitement for me.
The only downside to the book is that the secondary characters I enjoy so much, like her brother Randy and Mona and Liddy, were not terribly present. But I imagine (hope?) that is only a one-off issue, and I look forward to seeing them again in the next book!
In all, this was a really fun book to read in a long-running series I enjoy. I liked the new relationship developments between characters and the murder plot kept me on toes until the very end. This book has reinvigorated an already enjoyable series. I should note that this book also indicated that Lee Hollis is working on another new series. I can’t wait to hear more about it!