Book review: Kilpack's 'Pumpkin Roll' takes readers to a darker place

Published: Saturday, Oct. 22 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

"PUMPKIN ROLL," by Josi S. Kilpack, Shadow Mountain, $18.99, 364 pages (f)

Sadie Hoffmiller has a gift for finding trouble.

And author Josi S. Kilpack has a gift for putting her culinary mystery heroine into situations where she can hardly resist trying to sort such trouble out.

In "Pumpkin Roll," the trouble is staring her in the face from across the street in Boston where she's gone to help tend the grandchildren of her boyfriend, detective Pete Cunningham.

The "witch" in the neighborhood clearly has some problems and needs, so what can our girl do but investigate and see if she can help?

It's also nearing Halloween, so a few witches, ghosts and unexplainable door-slammings and unauthorized break-ins simply add a seasonal touch to the mystery.

Given that this book is a mystery, it wouldn't do to give too much away, so suffice it to say the culprit in this story is a surprise and gets away, probably to haunt Hoffmiller on another day.

Hoffmiller is caught up in this mystery before she really has a chance to look the other way. There are mysterious happenings across the street and right inside the house, things that cinnamon twists and whoopie pies cannot fix. (As usual, the recipes included at the end of each chapter are appealing to the point where it's hard not to put the book down and go find a treat.)

If Hoffmiller doesn't try to understand what's going on, the little boys in her charge could be in danger.

It's also possible that Hoffmiller, who now has her own private investigator license, really cannot leave a mystery alone. She's pretty much a good-hearted snoop.

In this story, which is a little darker than previous Kilpack mysteries, there's a psychopath out there and the real possibility that the supernatural world is playing a part.

At the same time, there are a couple of subplots going that confuse the issue. There's the snooty big sister, the "ghost" from Pete's past, the budding relationship between the reporter Jane and Hoffmiller's son Shawn and the curious, repeated invasions of the Cunningham home.

All the while, Hoffmiller is trying to see where her romance with Pete is headed.

It makes for a light, entertaining read, but don't look too closely or some of the strategem may fall apart.

For Kilpack’s upcoming book, she is having a Southwest inspired dessert recipe contest to help with the title of the book. The winning recipe will be the title and the winner will be written in as a character in the book. See deseretbook.com/josikilpackcontest for information and to enter.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Josi Kilpack speaking at Brigham City Library Book Festival

When: Tuesday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.

Where: Brigham City Library, 26 E. Forest St., Brigham City

Web: bcpl.lib.ut.us/bookfestival.html

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 30 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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