Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Death of a Christmas Caterer (Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #5)

Author:  Lee Hollis
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9780758294517
Kensington Publishing
336 Pages
$6.39; $5.99 Amazon
October 7, 2014

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Office Christmas parties can sometimes mean career suicide - but they rarely lead to murder.  Hayley thought Garth Rawlings would be the perfect caterer for this year's bash, but when the gourmet sees her budget, he goes galloping.

Unfortunately his run is short-lived.  Garth is found dead on the floor of his kitchen, with his delectable creations burning in the oven.  Faced with a spread of suspects, Hayley is determined to discover who would want to take out the Christmas caterer, because - no matter what the season - justice must be served...

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Hayley Powell, food and drink writer for the Island Times in Bar Harbor, Maine, has just barely begun a new relationship with the handsome vet when she hears that her old boyfriend, Lex Banfield has had an accident and is in the hospital.  So Hayley, feeling sorry for him, brings him food so he won't have to eat hospital fare.  She's still complaining about her lack of money but never even thinks of bailing to go to the other newspaper which might actually give her a living wage (didn't they have an opening after book #1?).  It's hard to feel sorry for someone who's already wallowing in their penury but won't do anything about it.

She also has been given the dubious duty of planning the office Christmas party with one days' notice.  When she gets a caterer - Garth Rawlings - he hangs up on her once he finds out what the budget is going to be, and Hayley winds up making all the food herself.  But when Garth learns people are raving about her menu, he hires her to help him for a couple of days and promises her $1500 to do so.  How can she turn it down?  But when she arrives at Garth's kitchen, there's a problem - a fire, and Garth is found dead on the floor.  County coroner Sabrina Merriwether rules it death by beating - but how did it happen when Garth was found in a locked room with no windows?

No, Hayley knows there's more to the story, and she's determined to find the truth.  What she does discover is that Garth had plenty of enemies, his marriage wasn't everything it was cracked up to be, and there are people who don't want her to know the truth, regardless if it means she'll have to be put away in a deep freeze forever...

Well, I guess I shouldn't go so far as to say I had high hopes for this book.  Hayley is Too Stupid To Live.  Her new boyfriend Aaron asks her to a romantic dinner, and Lex calls her begging her to bring him food.  So what does she do?  She agrees - in front of Aaron, KNOWING.  Just knowing.  What. A. Stupid. Woman.  Seriously, what is wrong with her?  Someone needs to show her a picture of a doormat and tape her name to it.  Then Hayley needs to photocopy it and put it in her home, at work, in her car, etc.  She should have just told Lex no, and that she'd see him tomorrow.  What a bleeding heart she is.

She also learns that her ex-husband is going to Bermuda instead of buying his kids Christmas gifts, or paying for half of their tickets to visit him.  Why not tell the kids what their dad is doing?  I would.  She owes him nothing, and should probably rethink her custody agreement.  What good is a father who puts his new girlfriend ahead of his children?  No, thank you.  She learns this at the beginning of the book, but then the subject is...dropped.  Throughout the rest of the book...

Anyway, now she's sort of on the outs with Aaron, and things just keep going from bad to worse.  At the office Christmas party, her coworker Bruce corners her and then after she barely escapes he tries to deny it the next day until Sal (her boss) lets Bruce know he saw everything.  So Hayley just wants to forget it, because you know, sexual assault by a drunk coworker is no big deal, right?  Even when it's brought up time and again, we should just go with it and say, 'Hey, the guy was just drunk' and shrug our shoulders about the whole situation.

So her relationship problems notwithstanding, she starts to investigate another murder.  Let's just say Hayley isn't known for being subtle.  And of course, it gets her in trouble and in real danger a couple of times.  But then she does something so totally stupid that I realizes this must be the dumbest woman on the face of the earth.  Here it is - and it's an ending spoiler, so if you don't want to know, don't read it:



What I have decided is that the characters in this book aren't the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree.  Sabrina is a coroner but repeatedly makes mistakes - big ones.  Mistakes no coroner would miss.  Hayley is getting close to being a moron.  Her intelligence seems to go down in each succeeding book, which is pretty hard to do.  And of course, she still has no problem drinking and driving.  What people need to realize is that when you have even one drink and get behind the wheel of a car, you're not only taking your own life in your hands, you're also taking everyone else's who happens to be out on the road that night.  And it's winter, icy and cold.  Not a good idea.

I really do hope that any more books in this series will have Hayley wising up to life and getting a new job and stop allowing people to walk all over her.  A light, fluffy read.

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Caterer-Hayley-Powell-Mystery/dp/0758294514/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2326351938

More on Lee Hollis's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/lee-hollis/

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