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 burial.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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