Saturday, March 10, 2018

Death of a Chocoholic (A Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #4)

Author:  Lee Hollis
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #: 9780758294494
Kensington Publishing
346 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
January 7, 2014


Fed up with dating after a disastrous setup, the only thing Hayley wants to snuggle up to is a box of made-to-order chocolates from plus-sized, plus-mouthed chocolatier Bessie Winthrop.  But when Bessie is found dead in her kitchen, only Hayley suspects that Bessie's "heart attack" might actually be a candy-coated murder.

Turns out Bessie had more enemies than a boxful of chocolates, each one a suspicious flavor.  It's sticky business juggling a job, two teenagers and finding a killer, but it's better than letting a killer find Hayley first...


Hayley Powell, food and drink columnist for a small newspaper in Bar Harbor, Maine, has just found her duties doubled when her co-worker Bruce takes a vacation and she needs to also write his crime beat column as well.  Which is fortunate, because she runs into an old schoolmate at the grocery store, and the woman is arguing with the owner.  After diffusing the situation, Hayley finds out the argument was because the woman wants to make chocolates, but the owner insists her house is too filthy for him to sell them.

When Hayley offers the woman a ride home, she finds out this is true, but still stays friends with Bessie Winthrop, figuring the obese woman doesn't have any others.  And when Bessie insists Hayley act in her promotional YouTube video, Hayley can't say no.  Neither does she when Bessie shows up at her office telling Hayley she's naming a line of candy after her and insists on giving her a promotional box.

But when Hayley gets the box of candy, which isn't until after Bessie suddenly dies and the coroner rules it natural causes due to her weight and health problems, that Hayley finds a note stuck inside one of the chocolates reading that someone was trying to kill her.  Now Hayley is insistent that Bessie was murdered, and is determined to find out who killed her, even if it ruins any chance she might have of a relationship with the new vet in town...

This is the fourth book in the series, and I was really hoping it would improve by now, but it really needs to have a professional proofreader.  In one scene, Bessie's car is kaput, in another, she has it at the bank.  In one scene, Hayley is looking at photos that Bessie took on her digital camera, but drops it when Sergio shows up...but then later on has photos she printed out from the camera that she left back in Bessie's house.

And Hayley isn't intrepid at all, as the author(s) would have us believe.  She has no problem breaking and entering, and doing other illegal miscellanea if it gets her what she wants.  Unfortunately, the worst of the characters is Liddy, who's supposed to be a modern woman very much in charge of herself, but she comes off like an oversexed drunk who has no problem hitting on men her best friend is interested in, and then apologizing later.

At least in this book Hayley didn't hit the bottle every time something went wrong in her life.  That's a plus in itself.  But this book could have been oh, so much better if Hayley had acted more like an adult female and used her wits instead of randomly accusing people and illegally searching their homes and businesses.  It's almost as if she's a teenager sneaking around trying to find out if her boyfriend is cheating on her.

In the end, it didn't seem so climactic as it could have been, and even though the reasons for the murder could have been believable, there were still questions left unanswered (Where is Kerry now?) and I would have liked to have seen some interaction that would have given us a clue to the killer before the last few pages.  Just another so-so book in the series; but since I have, unfortunately, purchased a few more of these, I will read them and try to get through to the end.


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