(Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for Pumpkin Roll, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier novels in the Sadie Hoffmiller series. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)
Life in her small Colorado town has gotten a little uncomfortable for amateur sleuth, Sadie Hoffmiller. Her involvement in five different murder cases over the last year has earned her a reputation as a "murder magnet." She's proud of her detective skills, has even opened Hoffmiller Investigations to make it all legal, but still, she can't help but notice the suspicious looks she's been getting from longtime friends and neighbors.
Getting out of town seems like a good idea, especially when handsome Pete Cunningham needs her help to watch his three young grandsons while their parents house hunt in Texas. Being in the Boston area during Halloween time is lovely, albeit a little spooky. Maybe it's the nearness of Salem that's giving her the creeps or maybe it's the boys' colorful neighbors or maybe it's something more ... sinister. Sadie does not believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the family's house in suburban Jamaica Plain, there are few logical ways to explain them. With lightbulbs exploding, doors slamming shut, lights flickering on and off, and obvious signs that someone's sneaking into the house while Pete and Sadie aren't home, all of them are on edge. Ghosts or not, Sadie's determined to solve the mystery. But the more she involves herself in the strange goings-on in the neighborhood, the more dangerous it's becoming. When a woman ends up dead, Sadie knows the weird things that have been happening are no joke and that the killer's becoming increasingly violent. If she doesn't solve the mystery - and fast - she could be the next victim.
You may not have noticed, but I broke one of my cardinal reading rules with Pumpkin Roll by Josi S. Kilpack. Normally, I'm too anal to read books in a series out of order; due to time constraints, though, I had to finish this one (number 6), before reading numbers 3 - 5. So, I did. Shocking, I know. The books actually stand alone quite well, though, so I only ruined a few plot surprises for myself. Regardless, I found that I liked this new installment much better than I liked the first two books in the series. Why? Because it's a little different, a little more complex. I still don't love Sadie's character and I definitely think the books in this series could be trimmed down by at least 100 pages each, but Pumpkin Roll engaged me more than others in the series have. I'm not saying the book's not predictable - it is - or that the characters couldn't use some major development - they can - I'm just liking the improvements I'm seeing as this series goes on. Oh, and did I mention the Fall recipes included in this one? Um, yum. Even if the book isn't quite perfection, the recipes just may be.
P.S. I really should mention that you can find all the recipes included in Kilpack's books on her website. While you're over there, be sure to check out her giveaway for an iPad2. There are multiple ways to enter, including commenting on this review. Good luck!
(Readalikes: Lemon Tart, English Trifle, and other books in the Sadie Hoffmiller series by Josi S. Kilpack; also Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Blueberry Muffin Murder, Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, and other books in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for some violence
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Pumpkin Roll from the generous folks at Pump Up Your Book Promotion (for whom this review was written) and Shadow Mountain (a division of Deseret Book).