Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Death of a Country Fried Redneck (A Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #2)

Author:  Lee Hollis
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital book
ISBN #. 9780758267382
Kensington Publishing
314 Pages
Various; $5.99 Amazon
November 6, 2012

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As a single mom, Hayley Powell already has a full plate - she's got deadlines to make and a teenage daughter with eyes for an aspiring singer-songwriter.  But when country music superstar Wade Springer rolls into town, Hayley spies an irresistible side gig: personal chef to her all-American idol.  After he tries her home cooking, Wade's so impressed that he hires her on the spot - and invites her to dine with him alone.

Hayley and Wade are hitting all the right notes...until a body turns up.  Wade's tour bus was torched overnight and a roadie named Mickey Pritchett came out well-done.  But the real cause of death isn't barbecue: Mickey was shot, his mouth stuffed with one of Hayley's trademark chicken legs.  An ornery drunk, Mickey had already made plenty of enemies in town, but Wade's reputation is on the rocks.  Hayley reckons it's up to her to settle this mess - a charbroiled mystery with all the fixin's.

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When Hayley Powell learns that her favorite singer is doing a couple of concerts in town, she manages to find a way to meet him - cook him breakfast at a local diner.  When Wade Springer, country superstar, tastes her cooking, he offers her the job of personal chef while he's there.  In fact, he's so taken with her, he wants to take her out to dinner, also.

Hayley, whose boyfriend Lex is away on business, doesn't think anything of it, because it's only a dinner, and she's already told Wade she's involved with someone.  But when she brings him her spectacular fried chicken she's accosted by one of his employees and practically dragged off.  Only the intervention of Wade and his bodyguard Curtis save her.

Later, the fired employee's body is found in a burned-out tour bus, and it also turns out that he was shot before the bus was burned.  So Hayley needs to find out who killed Mickey before Wade is blamed.  It doesn't help that Wade's ex-wife shows up and is hot on the trail of her ex, and a local punk is threatening her.  Now Hayley's on the trail of a killer who might be closer to home than she thinks after all...

This is the second book in the series, and I really hoped it would be better than the first.  And it was, a tad.  But Hayley screaming like a teenager when she learns her favorite singer is in town?  What grown woman would do that?  She obviously spends waaayy too much time with her teenaged daughter instead of adults...speaking of which, when she does spend time with adults, it's to go out and drink.  Don't they have anything else to do?  There's nothing wrong with it, but seriously, meeting at a bar night after night?

Then there's her boyfriend, Lex.  There's no spark at all; he's rather dull.  He just seems to come in and out of her life, and honestly, I was hoping she'd go off with the singer so she'd have something going on.  I just don't see how Hayley and Lex fit together.  Maybe if he'd spend time with the kids once in a while to get to know them, but there's just no connection for me.  As for her friend Mona - don't get me started.  Rather than go to the doctor and either her or her husband get snipped, she gets pregnant and then complains about her kids and her lazy husband.  This is not a family I would like to come near in a restaurant or anywhere else.  There doesn't seem to be any discipline at all; and what is supposed to be humorous makes you want to run for the hills.

While the story line was interesting - singer comes to town and one of his group is killed - there were too many distractions throughout.  Why is a fifteen-year-old kid taking pictures of people and no one is telling his parents that he needs to cut it out?  He's a minor, not a professional. 

I really would have liked to enjoy this book better, and as I said, I did a little more than the first, but only because the ending was a surprise.  I am hoping that in the next book Lex actually becomes a 'real boy' instead of the wooden model he seems to be, and that Hayley acts like the newspaper employee she is.  The recipes were okay, but only if you're centered on drinking with every meal.

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