Authors: Lee Hollis
320 Pages–Teen (and up)
Published by: Kenshington on March 29, 2016
Summary (from leehollismysteries.com):
When Hayley is invited to do a cooking demo on one of daytime’s most popular talk shows, it’s a welcome distraction from her 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 with a juicy paycheck.
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, and clogged arteries aren’t to blame. It turns out Olivia’s inherited a wealth of enemies over the years, and as Hayley trims the fat off a mounting list of suspects, it’s clear that being rich and hot-tempered can be a recipe for disaster…
I originally bought this book because when I was grocery shopping I saw it on the paperback shelf and I thought the title sounded so absurd that it was funny. It seemed to be one of those dime-novels, so to speak (though I assure you it was not a dime), and I figured “why not?” Although in all honesty, there was another reason that I bought this book. I’ve always been slightly ashamed that I don’t read “adult novel” even though I am an adult. It’s a silly feeling really because for all intents and purposes I read primarily for entertainment so if I find juvenile books entertaining then what’s the big deal. In recent years the feeling has minimized, but nonetheless it’s still there. So when I saw this book I figured it looked innocent enough for me to give it a try and still say “I’m finally reading a book for adults while I’m an adult!”
Walking into this book I kinda knew that this wasn’t going to be a literary masterpiece. Like many books in the cozy mystery genre, this book suffers from many tropes: the main character is a total amateur able to deduce what the police cannot, she has a handy connection with the police chief who happens to be her brother-in-law, and all the clues are found mostly by coincidence. Probably not something that is realistic, but entertaining all the same.
Most of Hayley’s time is spent trying to crossing off suspects and not actually getting many clues; when she crosses a suspect of her list she relies on her intuition rather than any hard evidence, which as a reader irritates me. She doesn’t really seem to be actively trying to solve the murder more like she happens to have all the right connections and happens to be in the right place at the right time. The clues she does get then turn out to be completely unimportant to the murder (such as Peggie’s infidelity or the hostile embezzlement in the bacon company). Normally, that would be okay if they were used as red-herrings, but it was more like they were introduced and then immediately dismissed. The final “clue” Hayley stumbles upon is when she talks to the girlfriend of the late Dr. Foley because Bruce begs her to for a completely unrelated (at least to their knowledge) interview. There really was not one shred of hard evidence against the murderer until the final confrontation when Hayley and her brother Randy are attacked by the said murderer. For me, this left me a quite unsatisfied with the conclusion of the mystery.
There were also some totally useless, irrelevant scenes. For example, the psychic women talking to Pork Chop? What was that about? It was totally, absolutely unnecessary and added nothing except mild humor to the story. Yes, what the psychic lady said that Pork Chop said was actually true, but it was a completely unreliable source that is never mentioned again by Hayley. It hardly constitutes as a clue and it isn’t even a hint to the reader because it’s an unreliable source. That part of the book could have easily been cut and the book would stay EXACTLY the same. I know that some people would say that it was a hilarious scene, but honestly I didn’t find it that funny. I could have lived with the scene if Hayley took it semi-seriously and actually mentioned it later in the book. Even in the end if she were to just say something like, “I guess that psychic lady was right.” But nope. It happens and then is never mentioned again. Totally unnecessary.
Overall, the murder was wrapped up nice and easy with no real surprises. The motive was incredibly simple and the way that the murder took place required no explanation either. There was no need for a grand Hercule Poirot deduction at the end although once I finished reading the book I still had a plethora of questions, but they weren’t really related to the murder. For example, did Peggie and Red stay together? Who’s the new CEO of the bacon company? What happened to Nacho?
Despite all of the things I didn’t like/found dubious about this book, I would overall say that this is a wonderful purse book. There wasn’t any suspense in the book so I wasn’t dying to know what was going to happen meaning I didn’t binge read it. It was perfect to have in my purse because I could just pick it up whenever I was out of the house and had some downtime, such as at the doctor’s office or when I was riding the bus or something. This book was a light, fun read and if I were more of a cook I would definitely try out the bacon themed recipes that are included. Instead of the recipes being in the back of the book they are sprinkled in throughout the story in the form of Hayley’s columns. These columns don’t add anything to the story per say, but they’re still a fun addition. Before reading this book I didn’t know cozy mysteries was a genre, but after reading a bit about the genre I learned Death of a Bacon Heiress fits the profile to a T. Aside from a few bad words (grand total of around 5) and a huge emphasis on drinking (Hayley can’t go 20 pages without having some sort of alcoholic beverage), this is really a mystery for anyone over the age of 15.
As an added note, this is the seventh book in the Hayley Powell series, but you don’t need to read the previous books to enjoy this one, which is a huge bonus. This was my first Hayley Powell mystery and I had no trouble at all following the storyline, characters, or what was going on. I was a little less than satisfied with the characters which might be because I haven’t read the previous six books to help with the characterization, but there wasn’t anything that left me scratching my head. I can’t say that this is my favorite mystery ever (not even close) or that it’s particularly memorable, but after reading this book I fully intend to pick up another Hayley Powell mystery and put it in my purse in the near future.