Halloween Food Mysteries

Oct 3, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow

This week we have 3 Halloween related food mysteries to help you get in the mood for Halloween-Boston Scream Murder: A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton, Death of a Wicked Witch: A Hayley Powell Mystery by Lee Hollis, and Gourd to Death: A Pie Town Mystery Book 5 by Kirsten Weiss. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

Boston Scream Murder: A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton
Review by Sandra Murphy

In the kitchen of Deputy Donut, the donut shop run by a former cop Tom and his cop son’s widow Emily, spooky things are happening. Boston cream donuts get scary faces and become Boston Screams and cake donuts turn into pumpkins.

Out front, a new customer, Rich, is extolling the wonders of Boston (Bah-ston). Too bad he’s in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. He’s a know-it-all, asking questions about the food, the coffee, the design of the shop, and Dep, the shop cat who stays in the office behind a large window so she can view and be viewed by her fans.

Rich confesses, he’s on a blind date to meet Cheryl, a surprise to the staff who hadn’t heard anything about it from Cheryl herself. Rich is well-meaning but overbearing, ordering for her and telling Emily no scary face on the donut, double the frosting. They seem to get along okay but Cheryl confesses, one date was enough. Besides, she has a second meetup in the afternoon with another man.

Steve turns out to be much quieter, with a few quirks, nothing that’s a deal-breaker. While she’s talking to Steve, Rich comes in with another date too. It seems he met the love of his life, a former girlfriend from years ago, and now they’ve reconnected. He didn’t want to disappoint Cheryl so didn’t cancel their date, although he takes the time to tell her all this in front of Steve.

Rich orders three dozen donuts for his birthday party the next day. He has a precise timetable for the caterer, Emily, the guests, and his girlfriend to be there. Unfortunately, an unexpected guest ruins the careful planning by showing up and bashing Rich with a cast iron skillet, leaving Emily to find the body.

She’s worked with her husband’s former partner before and although they like each other and spend time together, it’s not a romance. Yeah, sure. This time the State Police have been called in since Emily found the body, and she’s the lead detective’s friend. State Police meaning a stylishly dressed, rather overbearing female. Not that Emily’s jealous.
Through a lot of twists and turns, some that are risky, Emily manages to figure out just who’s guilty of small crimes and misdemeanors and who’s guilty of murder.

This is book four in the series. Emily and Tom work well together, with Nina along to help in the kitchen and in finding clues. Look for recipes for Boston Scream donuts, fudge frosting for making faces or traditional chocolate frosting, and the customary filling, and for Scare-it Cake (carrot cake) donuts with orange cream cheese frosting. Sit back and enjoy the mystery but try not to get frosting on the pages or the screen while reading.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. A Murder of Crows, edited by Sandra Murphy (a popular title so you need her name to search), has twenty-one cozy stories. Each features the collective name of an animal and a crime. The animals range from tarantulas, koalas, wolves, bears, jellyfish, toads, cats, dogs, alpaca, goats, penguins and more. No animals were harmed. The people weren’t so lucky. Available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Death of a Wicked Witch: A Hayley Powell Mystery by Lee Hollis
Review by Cynthia Chow

It’s the start of the Halloween season in Bar Harbor, Maine, and no one is more excited than Island Times food columnist Hayley Powell. In addition to celebrating with costumes, candy, and over-the-top parties, new food truck Wicket ‘Wiches has arrived in town with their perfectly themed mouthwatering subs and sandwiches. Even better is the food truck’s owner Trudy Lancaster, who quickly becomes a friend and whose pastor husband immediately bonds with Hayley’s own husband Bruce. Not everyone is as enamored with the couple as Hayley, though, with rival food truck Burger She Wrote owner Cloris Fennow charging over to object to the newcomer encroaching on her territory. When Trudy is hospitalized from a severe case of food poisoning that turns out to have been intentional, she believes that it was caused by the candied apple “gifted” to her as a peace offering by the eccentric Cloris. Although Trudy eventually recovers, it is not long before Hayley later discovers the young woman trapped inside her food truck and dead from a gas leak.

The beautiful purveyor of delicious Paninis had gained her share of enemies, not in the least of these who is an extremely jealous stepdaughter. The retiring pastor did not attempt to hide his lecherous interest in Trudy, infuriating and embarrassing his own wife. Needing to see that justice is found for her new friend and being something of a meddler herself, Hayley prods her police chief brother-in-law Sergio Alvarez into giving her information about the investigation. She’s again helped by her usual accomplices Liddy Crawford and Mona Barnes, but a new enabler comes in the welcome form of Hayley’s now-grown daughter, Gemma. Visiting from New York, she is accompanied by her hunky, aspiring model/actor Connor, who gives Hayley some startling information. Completely torn between dishing to her daughter and keeping confidences, looks to guidance from her husband. When forced into giving his own opinion, Bruce makes the outstanding and hilarious declaration that she should mind her own business, but she follow her instincts anyway, and when it blows up he will not say, “I told you so.” Brilliant. A decorating mishap due to a stubborn decorating attempt only complicates matters, leaving the protective mother and friend juggling egos, confidences, and her own proclivity for trouble.

This lucky 13th of the series is just as funny as the first, delivering another laugh-inducing novel from brother and sister writing team Lee Hollis. Appropriate for the season, Hayley’s Island Food & Spirits columns feature past personal Halloween events that start out well, spiral into chaos, but ultimately result in heartwarming family memories. Potent Godiva Chocolate Martini and Philly Cheesesteak Melt recipes included at the end ensure that they are comforting balms for both Hayley and readers. Those needing a vicarious Halloween experience filled with humor, creative costumes, and the rush of a sugar high need look no further than this delightful treat of a mystery.

Gourd to Death: A Pie Town Mystery Book 5 by Kirsten Weiss
Review by Cynthia Chow

Pie Town shop owner Valentine Harris should have known better than to agree to judge a pumpkin pie bake-off during San Nicholas’s annual fall pumpkin festival. Not only is her own boyfriend Gordon one of the contestants, but health-fanatic owner of Heidi’s Health and Fitness gym attempts to get Val disqualified by making the identification of her crust-free entry obvious. The perils of a highly charged cooking competition will pale in comparison to discovering a body squashed by a pumpkin, especially when it is the enormous two-thousand-pound entry in the pumpkin growing contest. How etymologist Dr. Kara Levant managed to get herself under the tremendous squash is the first question, the second being whether or not it was an accident.

Thrown off the case by the jealous Police Chief who declares that Detective Gordon Carmichael has too many conflicts of interest, the very frustrated detective looks to his girlfriend to help him investigate. His encouragement is nothing compared to Val’s pie crust specialist Charlene McCree, who immediately enlists the services of The Baker Street Bakers armchair detecting club. While that also means that Charlene’s nemesis Marla Van Helsing does her best both to interfere and become an associate member, they’re going to need all the help they can get when Val is attacked in a pirate ship haunted house, the Pie Town van is vandalized, and another suspect falls victim to the anti-pumpkin killer. Rivalries between towns, bakers, business partners, employees, family members, and friends all rise to the surface and prove to be long-lasting and deadly.

After being abandoned by her father and estranged from her mother, Val is settling down with a new circle of friends in the charming Coastal Californian town. The recent discovery of a half-brother means the unexpected arrival of his mother, who is charming but threatens to throw another wrench in Val’s new life. That her stepmother Takako immediately bonds with Charlene portends to no end of chaos in Val’s life, especially when the women depart on their own to less-than-stealthily interrogate suspects and wield a pumpkin drone for surveillance. Gordon being off the case has him obsessively creating his own obsessive Murder Board, so it’s no wonder that Val retreats into some “procastibaking” and creating fall pastries perfect for the season. What’s stressful for Val is a delight for readers, who not only witness the antics of her friends but can imagine the tasty pastries whipped up by the creative chef. This fifth in the series is a deliciously fun adventure just in time for the Halloween season, when tricks outweigh the treats and nearly everyone hides behind a mask.

To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “halloween food,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 10, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

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).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I’ve been following Hayley
    since the series started. It’s
    always great. The other two
    are new to me – love to try them
    out. thanks

  2. Another great collection! Count me in!

  3. Love the deputy donut series, haven’t read this one yet! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  4. Would really love to read all three Halloween mysteries. They sound like three great holiday books.

  5. I enjoy the Hayley Powell mysteries a lot!

  6. Love the spooky cozies this time of year!

  7. Halloween- themed mysteries are my favorite!

  8. I’ve been keeping up with Hayley.
    The other two would be new.
    Love to try all of them. thanks

  9. Thank you for the chance to win this great prize!!

  10. Have not had the opportunity to read any of these . Thank you for the chance!!

  11. We have a winner!


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