Death of a Kitchen Diva by Lee Hollis is the first book in the new “Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, March 2012

Welcome to Bar Harbor, Maine, one of New England’s most idyllic coastal towns. But as new food writer Hayley Powell is about to find out, the occasional murder can take a bite out of seaside bliss.

Single mom Hayley Powell is barely keeping her leaking roof over her head when her boss at the Island Times gives her a new assignment—taking over the paper’s food column. Hayley’s not sure she has the chops—she’s an office manager, not a writer, even if her friends clamor for her mouth-watering potluck dishes. But the extra income is tempting, and Hayley’s chatty first column is suddenly on everyone’s menu—with one exception.

When rival food writer Karen Appelbaum is found face-down dead in a bowl of Hayley’s creamy clam chowder, all signs point to Hayley. To clear her name, she’ll have to enlist some help, including her BFFs, a perpetually pregnant lobster woman, and a glamorous real estate agent. As she whips up a list of suspects, Hayley discovers a juicy secret about the victim—and finds herself in a dangerous mix with a cold-blooded killer.

This is a fun read. Hayley gets a promotion and the next thing she knows she is fighting to clear her name when she becomes the main suspect in the murder of a rival food writer. I had such a good time reading this amusing story from beginning to end. This fast-paced and lighthearted mystery was wonderfully written with some comedic interludes. With a lovable cast and great dialogue, this is a welcome addition to the cozy genre and I look forward to more adventures with Hayley and her friends in this pleasingly entertaining series.

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