|Hayley Powell is nervous enough about her first date with Lex Bansfield when she is arrested for the murder of fellow food columnist Karen Applebaum.† Hayley, the receptionist at Bar Harbor, Maineís Island Times has just agreed to be the food columnist when the paperís longtime columnist retires.† Hayley knows a lot about cooking, but very little about journalism and knows she needs the extra money in her paycheck, small as it is, to help makes ends meet as a single mother of a teenage daughter and preteen son.†
After a very public argument and food fight at the libraryís annual fundraiser, Hayley receives an apology e-mail from Karen and an invitation to her house. When Hayley arrives she finds Karen face down in a dish of clam chowder and finds herself the policeís number one suspect, even though her brotherís boyfriend Sergio is the chief of police, working his way up from dispatcher in the small coastal town.†
Hayley canít believe sheís on the hook for Karenís murder, all over a few family recipes, and begins to dig into Karenís life to see who in this small town may have had it in for Karen.† Before long, Hayleyís got a long list of people with reasons to want Karen dead, along with a few suspicions about Lex who has been pursuing Hayley quite actively, but about whom little is known.† As Hayley, her brother Randy and her BFF Liddy chase after a murderer, Hayley still has to remember to take time to write her chatty column which is growing in popularity, much to her boss Salís displeasure.†
Hayley is an energetic woman who juggles her two children and her job while still maintaining a life of her own.† She takes being accused of murder and her arrest in stride and sets out to find out who did it and who set her up to take the fall.† Hayley is at times a little too energetic, though, making her a little too good to be true.† She is not a trained journalist as her boss is quick to point out, but takes to writing a chatty column like a fish to water (which is what Sal wants to do when he accepts her, according to him, substandard column) and the readers love her.†
The investigation is well plotted, and though Hayley turns up just as much about Lex as she does Karen, Lex never really becomes the guy she should date or the guy she should steer clear of.† Written by a brother and sister team, Death of a Kitchen Diva is a reliable culinary cozy with characters that have possibilities.† Hayley and company are definitely worth a look.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry