Death of a Pumpkin Carver By Lee Hollis: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Sep 24, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Lee Hollis

This week we have a review of a fun food mystery set at Halloween by Lee Hollis, and a fun Halloween and food guest post from Lee (which includes a recipe perfect for Halloween). We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

Death of a Pumpkin Carver: A Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails Mystery by Lee Hollis
Review by Cynthia Chow

As much as Hayley Powell loves the Halloween season and the copious amounts of candy she consumes, this holiday looks to be bringing more than its expected share of scares. Hayley’s ex-husband Danny has descended upon Bar Harbor, ostensibly on vacation to visit their children, but she has her suspicions. The handsome, charming, and undeniably appealing rogue has a history of leaving a trail of debt and broken hearts in his wake, and Hayley doubts that he has changed. She never considered him to be homicidal though, something that her brother’s husband suspects when Danny’s uncle is left in a cemetery, dead but without a proper

When she’s not on the unofficial crime beat, Hayley’s “Island Food & Spirits” column for the Island Times newspaper continues to be a delightful presentation of personal oversharing and pumpkin food and drink recipes. Hayley and her children may possibly be the most mature residents in Bar Harbor, as Danny manages to continually charm his way in and out of trouble while two potential suitors embarrassingly seem intent on marking their territory. Hayley’s two best friends provide opposing viewpoints on her single status, neither of which are entirely helpful or rational. The level of humor remains constant and at a near-absurd level, but readers will continue to root for Hayley as she resists Danny’s overwhelming charm offensive. That’s a good path to take, as pursuing Danny is a psychotic ex-girlfriend, angry mobsters, and most of the single (and some not-single but still looking) Bar Harbor ladies.

In this eighth of the Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails Mystery series, the sibling writing duo of Rick Copp and Holly Simason continue their record of crafting extremely funny, light-hearted mysteries full of romantic snafus, parenting frustrations, and delicious-sounding culinary treats. Perhaps most intriguing is the progression of the relationship between Hayley and rival “Island Times” co-worker Bruce Linney. Once a condescending, donut-hogging, chain-smoking, story-stealing sexist, Bruce has somehow become one of Hayley’s strongest supporters. His new fitness regimen has him more confident and serene, not to mention a whole lot sexier. With her children leaving the nest and Hayley finding herself at home with a promising career, readers are treated to a resilient and more self-assured heroine ready to stand on her own despite what life continues to throw at her.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Halloween Parade
By Lee Hollis aka Holly Simason & Rick Copp

When my brother and I were writing, Death of a Pumpkin Carver, he included an elementary school Halloween parade scene in the book. What some people don’t know is that we like to include a lot of real events, places, and little stories that happen or happened in our town. So when you’re reading Death of a Pumpkin Carver and the parade is mentioned, remember there really and truly is an elementary Halloween parade and has been for over 50 years. It’s still going on strong and a favorite must see each year for the young and local year-round residents.

I grew up in the small town of Bar Harbor, Maine, being a kid in the late 60s & 70s in a tourist town. As you got older you knew it was the end of summer when immediately the day after Labor Day the crowds were gone and every, almost every, business in town was closing their doors and boarding up the windows to protect them from the all too soon winter months that would bring icy snowstorms and cold frigid winds.


Lee Hollis aka Rick Copp and Holly Simason

On the other hand this was a sign, for many happy parents, that a new school year had just started. Most of us kids were happy a new school year started, but it also meant that now the holidays were right around the corner and Halloween was the first one on the list.

As far back as I can remember, Conners Emerson Elementary school in Bar Harbor has had a Halloween Parade every year. On occasion it had to be cancelled due to rain, but that didn’t stop the students from dressing up and the elementary school band from playing and marching around the small gymnasium just for the kindergartners that couldn’t participate until first grade. We could deal with the rain, but what we couldn’t deal with was, if it was a bright sunny day but the wind chill factor was freezing, your parents and teachers made you wear a coat over your costume.

I think that’s when some smart thinking parent(s) started making or buying much larger costumes in case of a cold blustery day!

On the day of the parade we would all get dressed up in our homemade or store bought costumes in our classrooms, then board a couple of busses for the five-minute drive to the Village Green, the town center. It was quite exciting when it was your first parade because there was a real live police escort at the front of the parade (one car) and a real live marching band (fifth through eighth grade band members). The rest of us were lined up as best as the teachers could do since we were all excited. Then the band struck up their first song, and we all began to shuffle along through town.

People would step out of the businesses that were still open to watch and wave. Our parents, grandparents, younger siblings would be yelling your name from the sidewalk and jumping up and down to get your attention so they could snap a picture or two.

Finally we were heading down Cottage Street back to school. The walking was beginning to seem a little long as our feet started dragging a little on the ground. The band had long stopped playing or at least together, costumes usually started coming apart or pieces lost, and for some poor kids if you had an over zealous parent who, for example, made your “Tin Man” costume from real tin materials, you might be getting really tired and just want to cry a little bit.

Finally we would all trudge up the steps to the school and head inside and like magic we would be laughing and talking about how fun it was and would be ready to do it all over again the next year.

Pumpkin Muffins


Pumpkin Muffins

1-3/4 all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon milk
Splash of vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl combine your flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices. Whisk together.
3. In a bowl combine your pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla.
4. Add your wet ingredients to your dry. Mix to just incorporate.
5. Use an ice cream scoop and scoop your batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick pushed into a muffin comes out clean.

Share with your little ghosts and goblins and enjoy!

To enter to win a signed copy of Death of a Pumpkin Carver, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “carver,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 1, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Click on this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

Death of a Pumpkin Carver

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Holly Simason is an award winning food and cocktails columnist who worked for the Mount Desert Islander newspaper in Bar Harbor, Maine for ten years. While working at the paper, she won her first award for her column in 2010. It was at that point her brother Rick Copp saw an opportunity. He writes mysteries and she writes recipes. Combine the two for a new book series. They would write under a pen name comprised of their middle names “Lee” and “Hollis”. And the successful Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails Mystery series was born.
Holly now resides on the Crystal Coast in North Carolina where she continues to write the popular series with her brother. She is also busy creating and testing new recipes for a future Hayley Powell cookbook.
Holly continues to visit her home town of Bar Harbor every summer where the series is set to reconnect with friends and keep her Maine roots intact.
Rick Copp is a veteran TV and Film scriptwriter whose many credits include The Golden Girls, Wings, Teen Titans, The Brady Bunch Movie, Scooby Doo, Barbershop among many others. Currently he writes, produces and stars in the hit web series Where the Bears Are.
In 2003, he wrote his first comedic murder mystery The Actor’s Guide to Murder, which was followed by two sequels. He also penned a 2007 stand alone novel Fingerprints & Facelifts and a 2010 graphic novel Celebrity Zombie Killers. Once he read his sister’s food and cocktails column, he became an instant fan of her recipes and it was his editor at Kensington Publishing who first suggested a cozy mystery series with recipes featuring an intrepid food columnist with a nose for crime solving.
Rick bounces back and forth between LA where he continues to work on TV and film projects and Palm Springs, California where he writes the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery series.


  1. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Interesting cover and sounds like a good read.

  3. The pumpkin muffins sound delicious and the book looks interesting!

  4. Oh my goodness, I must read this book! I love the cover and so enjoy “holiday” reads!

  5. I always love to read holiday his and this one looks esp. Good

  6. ’tis the season for Halloween and murder!! I look forward to reading this one.

  7. Great review and love the revipe thanks Penney

  8. One of the very best & funniest series I have read. Love it & can’t wait to read the newest. Great post & interview.

  9. Lots of great information on both the book and the authors. I love that a recipe is always included although I haven’t been brave to try any yet. I’m a frozen pizza type of gal. Great blog post.

  10. Holly & Rick… you two are a winning combination! I have loved every book
    and look forward to many many more! Cheers!!

  11. Halloween and Cozy mysteries spell fun for me…Anxious to read this title. thank you for the chance.

    johnnabooks AT hotmail DOT com

  12. Just got Death of a Bacon Heiress, so I’ll be all set to read Death of a Pumpkin Carver. Thanks for sharing your muffin recipe… I love all things pumpkin!

  13. Sounds like an exciting story – and I enjoyed reading about the parade, looking forward to seeing it in the novel! Would love to read this – I, too, love all things pumpkin!

  14. We have a winner!

  15. Liked this book. But on the recipe for the pumpkin chocolate
    chip cookies, baking soda wasn’t listed in the ingredients,
    but was in the directions to add it – how much?
    Also no baking temp was listed. 🙁

    would like to make these but—–


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