"A cozy mystery with bacon recipes"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted December 15, 2016
Seventh in the Hayley
Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery
series comes an engaging tale about, yes, a pig. DEATH OF
A BACON HEIRESS follows. Hayley is the food columnist at
her local newspaper, an empty nester missing her student
kids, with a gentle romance with the local veterinarian
Aaron. She has stepped on the toes of the crime reporter a
few times in the past and gets warned off his stories.
Travelling from Boston to New York to appear on a cookery
show seems the height of fame to our heroine. Her island
home never feels far away though, as Olivia Redmond, heir
to the Redmond Meats wealth and an estate on Mount Desert
Island, meets her in the studio. Olivia owns a pet
potbellied pig ironically called Pork Chop. She's also
accompanied by her Argentine trophy husband. I quite
enjoyed seeing the roles reversed. A recipe for bacon-
wrapped jalapeno-stuffed chicken thighs follows, with the
comment that it's much easier to eat a pig if you don't
know it beforehand. Olivia, back on the island, offers
Hayley good money to write a recipe blog. But when Hayley
turns up at Olivia's home she finds the lady lying dead in
Hayley is not a suspect, but her poor pig may be the only
witness. This leads to some unlikely scenes such as an
animal communicator trying to read Pork Chop's mind, and we
meet other animals like a horse and dog. The local people
are friendly but the deceased seems to have been mercurial,
snobbish and dictatorial, so there's a good potential for
enemies. I know it's easier to think of someone
unsympathetic being murdered, but a wealthy snob does seem
something of a caricature.
The recipes continue to be interjected. Bacon-wrapped pork
tenderloin, anyone? Blackberry moonshine cocktail to
follow? Tasty as these are, and in context, the snippets
and musings from Hayley's newspaper column do break the
flow and intensity of the story. This makes DEATH OF A
BACON HEIRESS a very light cozy mystery, with more emphasis
on character and setting than on crime or forensics. If
you've been following the series I'm sure you'll be
thrilled to get another toothsome chapter in the life of
the food writer. Lee Hollis is the pen name for brother and
sister team Rick Copp and Holly Simason.
For food and cocktails columnist Hayley Powell, becoming
local culinary celebrity opens lots of doors.
one leads straight to cold-blooded murder…
Hayley is invited to do a cooking demo on one of
most popular talk shows, it's a welcome distraction from
empty nest blues. And the newfound fame certainly has its
perks--especially when Olivia Redmond, the posh bacon
heiress of Redmond Meats, offers Hayley a writing gig
But Hayley's good fortune fizzles
fast. The heiress is found dead with her pet pot-bellied
pig, Pork Chop, squealing bloody murder beside her body,
clogged arteries aren't to blame. It turns out Olivia's
inherited a wealth of enemies over the years, and as
trims the fat off a mounting list of suspects, it's clear
that being rich and hot-tempered can be a recipe for
Includes seven delectable recipes
ExcerptHayley Powell wished she was anywhere else as she picked
at the last of her butter croissant and sipped what was
left of her now cold coffee.
Bruce Linney was still talking.
Hayley checked the time on her cell phone. He had been
prattling on for at least fifteen minutes. She sighed,
brushed some stray crumbs off her light green blouse, and
fixed her eyes on Bruce, pretending to at least be mildly
She hated attending staff meetings at the Island Times
Everyone gathering around a shoddy, scratched wooden
table in a makeshift conference room with framed
clippings of past landmark stories on the wall and
discussing the major local news the handful of reporters
were currently following.
A summer cottage break-in.
A controversial city council vote on new lobster boat
The high school swim team setting new records.
All topics Hayley was definitely interested in hearing
about. It was just that Editor in Chief Sal Moretti, the
big cheese at the paper, always scheduled these meetings
during lunch, and he couldn’t resist chowing down on a
pastrami and rye sandwich during the meeting. Which was
fine, but his mouth was so full half the time he was
unable to speak and it provided crime reporter Bruce
Linney with an opening to hijack the proceedings.
Bruce loved to hear himself talk.
And today was no exception.
“Now, we don’t know what kind of secret project Dr. Alvin
Foley was working on at the time of his disappearance,
but I am following up on a few leads and hope to have
some answers in the coming days,” Bruce said.
Dr. Alvin Foley.
Now there was a fascinating story.
A young Stanford-educated scientist with an impressive
résumé who had moved to Mount Desert Island three years
ago to work at the Jackson Laboratory, a leading genetics
research center located on the outskirts of town.
Kept to himself.
Hayley had run into him several times at the Shop ’n
Save, and he would always make a point of smiling and
He seemed to love cooking. He was always buying exotic
ingredients to experiment with new dishes.
One day it was Thai. The next Indian.
Hayley always felt guilty because she was the one who was
supposed to be setting the culinary trends in town; after
all, she was the paper’s resident food columnist. But her
grocery cart always seemed to be filled with Cheetos and
packaged macaroni and cheese.
She hadn’t seen Dr. Foley at the grocery store in a few
weeks because he had mysteriously vanished without a
No evidence of wrongdoing.
But the rumors were flying around town fast and furious.
Was he working on some kind of top secret medical
breakthrough cure at the lab, and was someone willing to
do him harm and steal his research in order to beat him
to the punch?
That was the kind of rampant speculation everyone was
gossiping about at the grocery store, at the high school
baseball games, at the church socials. It was all anyone
could talk about.
Hayley’s phone buzzed.
She looked down at it, cradled in her lap, hoping it
might be Aaron or one of her kids, but it was just Liddy
confirming their girls’ night out at Drinks Like A Fish,
her brother’s bar, after work.
Hayley felt a lump in her throat.
She was missing her kids big time.
Gemma was attending the University of Maine at Orono,
studying for a bachelor degree in animal and veterinary
science, and Dustin had recently been awarded a huge
opportunity to spend the spring semester in Boston taking
a college prep course in graphic design at the
Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
She was so proud of them. But they were growing up so
It scared the hell out of her.
She hated to admit she was suffering from a bit of empty-
For so many years she had dragged those kids out of their
beds to get ready for school, made them lunches, yelled
at them to finish their homework. She had grown so
accustomed to her roles as guardian, caretaker, and drill
sergeant she was a little lost now that those roles no
longer needed to be filled.
It was tough going home after work to an empty house.
She still had her loyal and loving dog, Leroy, and her
demanding and moody cat, Blueberry, but it just wasn’t
“Now, I interviewed Dr. Foley’s parents in Oregon and
they said he had no enemies to speak of and was a dutiful
son. They don’t see any reason why anyone would want to
hurt him. I put in some calls to Stanford and spoke to
his professors and they all said the same thing.”
God, Bruce was still talking.
This was not new information. Bruce had presented all of
this exact information at last week’s staff meeting ad
nauseam. But he wanted to put on a good performance for
Sal and show him he was still working hard on the case.
As for Sal, he wasn’t even listening. He was opening his
mouth as wide as he could to slide in the second half of
his pastrami sandwich.
Hayley returned to her own thoughts again.
The handsome local vet she had been dating for a while
She had thought their relationship was progressing.
He seemed engaged. He was certainly affectionate.
But over the last month or so he had seemed to pull away.
She’d heard from him less.
He’d canceled a couple of dinner dates.
When she texted him or left a voice mail, he would take
longer than usual to get back to her.
It was starting to worry her.
She had no idea where all of this was leading, or even
whether this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of
her life with, but she had grown so fond of him and
didn’t want to lose him from her life—
“Excuse me, Hayley, did you hear me?”
Hayley snapped to attention. “I’m sorry, what?”
“I asked you a question,” Bruce said, scowling, arms
folded across his chest.
“I didn’t hear it,” Hayley said, clearing her throat.
“Could you repeat it?” “Am I boring you?”
Hayley bit her tongue.
Don’t answer that.
Don’t answer that.
“I’m just a little distracted today, Bruce. My apologies.
What was your question?”
“I asked you if you had any plans to investigate the Dr.
Alvin Foley story,” Bruce said, eyes fixed upon her like
a laser beam.
“Why would I write about that? I’m the food-andcocktails
columnist. You’re the crime reporter.”
“Good. I’m happy to hear you’re clear on that. Because my
gut is telling me this is a big and complicated story,
and we don’t need some amateur sleuth sticking her nose
into it and muddying the waters,” he said smugly.
Muddying the waters?
Hayley couldn’t even count the number of times she had
jumped into a criminal investigation in the recent past
and did Bruce’s job for him. And she still let him take
all the credit in his own column.
He should be on his knees thanking her. But she decided
to stay mum. She simply nodded in agreement and let him
continue his one-man show.
Hayley had zero plans to interfere with Bruce’s
factfinding mission anyway. She was too preoccupied with
her personal life.
Or lack thereof.
Besides, there was another story, completely unrelated to
the strange case of the missing scientist, that was about
to rise above the horizon.
And it was a doozy.
This one did not involve a missing person.
This person would be found very much dead.
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