by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Hell on Wheels, along with a link to purchase the book.
It’s Christmastime in Bar Harbor, Maine, and single-mom Hayley Powell is trying to juggle a Christmas list that grows as her finances shrink. Hayley’s narcissistic ex-husband has back-peddled on his promise to help her with their kids’ expenses, and her boss at the Island Times newspaper has saddled her with additional duties without the additional salary. While her boss was too cheap to provide the funds to hire a professional to cater the office party, the aborted plan allows her to meet Garth Rawlings, Great Caterer of Bar Harbor. The renowned caterer may not have been willing to cater the Island Times’ measly event, but Hayley’s successful in her efforts to cook to impress Rawlings. He wants to hire her to assist in the town’s Midnight Madness festivities.
What began as a way to pay off credit card debt results in further turmoil, since Hayley won’t have the time to soothe the ruffled feathers of her current boyfriend, veterinarian Aaron Palmer. Hayley is doing a stupendous job at sabotaging their relationship when her ex-boyfriend Lex Bansfield manages to get himself injured and she offers to help. Her plans literally go down in flames when Rawlings’s kitchen warehouse burns down with him inside.
It’s not too surprising Hayley gets herself into the interrogations of Rawlings’ widow, the construction workers whose noise flattened his soufflés, and the business partner who inherits. What is absolutely shocking is that in order to question a suspect, Hayley finds herself at the Bar Harbor Gym when not motivated by post-holiday flab regret.
Watching Hayley go through life is something akin to watching a slow-moving train wreck. Although motivated by good intentions and a good deal of guilt, Hayley manages to get herself further in debt and trouble. It’s actually a relief when murder occurs and finding a killer becomes a priority. She often throws herself at danger far more than is advisable for a mother of two, but one can’t argue with the results.
The characters succeed in propelling this mystery. Toss in a deluded and not-quite-competent former Mean Girl coroner and a clever police chief with a tendency towards malapropism and misunderstandings of English idioms, and you have a thoroughly enjoyably escapist mystery. The humor rarely lets up in this fifth of the series that is co-written by the brother and sister team of Rick Copp and Holly Simason.
Hayley’s Island Food & Spirits columns of holiday memories, recipes, and cocktails will also be sure to entertain readers with their nostalgic and fond reminisces of past Christmas chaos that are perhaps made more charming through the glaze of time and alcohol.
To enter to win a copy of Death of a Christmas Caterer, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Caterer,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 13, 2014. 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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