Book Review – Eggnog Murder
By Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross
Trade paperback, 343 pages
I seldom get the chance to read a collection of short stories, so when I received the ARC for “Eggnog Murder” I thought this was going to be a good way to read the work of authors which are new to me. I wasn’t disappointed.
Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier features the characters of the coastal town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine. At the center of the story are the co-workers of The Pennysaver, the local newspaper, and a mysterious gift of eggnog that turns up at Wilf and Phyllis’ home. Phyllis is the receptionist; Ted Stilling is the head reporter, editor and publisher; Lucy Stone is a part time reporter and feature writer. Trouble finds its way into the office when Phyllis brings the eggnog to work. Apparently, Wilf believed it was a Christmas gift from the members of the “Real Beard Santa Claus Club,” which he had recently joined. But he hadn’t confirmed it.
With the annual “stroll” sponsored by the chamber of commerce, around the corner, it’s suggested by Corney Clark, the chamber’s director, that this is the perfect opportunity for Ted to offer refreshments and a reduced subscription fee to bring in new readers. She also finagled a break in the chamber’s promotional ad.
During the event, Dorcas Philpott, chairwoman of the Conservation Commission, drinks the eggnog and dies. She apparently had a fatal allergic reaction.
With Eggnog Murder, what appears to be an accident turns out to be more intentional, but the woman who dies wasn’t who the murderer wanted dead. Wouldn’t have guessed the guilty party in this one. Liked that the media helps solve cases as well as report them. The family scenes added further stress to an already stressful job. Hope to read other books by this author.
Death by Eggnog, a Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails mystery was written by Lee Hollis. The story begins with Island Times crime reporter Bruce Linny asking Hayley if she’s going to this year’s Restaurant Association Christmas Dinner in Bar Harbor. He informs her that proceeds go to a local charity that purchases gifts for needy children. Because of the holiday, he’s short on subjects to write about. He jokes that what he needs is a murder investigation to cover. Apparently, someone else thought the same thing.
The annual Bar Harbor Restaurant Association Dinner was turning out to be a wonderful event until Head Librarian, and all around curmudgeon, Agatha Farnsworth, eats a spicy chicken wing and is given what she was told was a non-dairy cup of eggnog. Sadly, it wasn’t. Her allergic reaction is fatal. Frannie Clark-Van Dam seems to be in trouble because not only did she hand the lethal beverage over to Agatha, but numerous people witnessed her having an argument with Agatha in a restaurant.
This story has a great twist. I didn’t see it coming and perhaps you won’t either. Liked the characters and the fact that Lee thought out of the box in terms of characteristic traits of the sheriff. Loved that the protagonist was a food critic. Very clever who the guilty party is.
Nogged Off by Barbara Ross has Julie heading back to her former apartment. She sublet her apartment in Tribeca to Imogen Geinkes who she felt confident could pay her way working for a small advertising agency. When Julie is ready to pack up the last of her possessions, she sees Imogen in the living room crying. Apparently, she prepared a family recipe for eggnog and everyone who drank it in the office became ill. Feeling like she couldn’t return to work, she knows she can no longer sublet the apartment. Julie doesn’t want to leave her on hard times, so she takes her back home with her to Maine where she’s working to save her family’s clambake business. Little does Julie know that Imogen is a handful, pretty much little a little kid in a candy shop. But there’s actually nothing childish about her.
Nogged Off also had a twist, a very scary idea that makes you wonder if anyone considered it. In short, careful who you trust. This story was the last installment of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. I liked Julia and her mother and would have liked to follow their storyline.
Three and half stars out of five
January 15, 2017