A Contest to Kill For by E.V. Hunter

It’s my stop today on the blog tour for A Contest to Kill For by E.V. Hunter. Many thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite.

Title: A Contest to Kill For (A Hopgood Hall Murder Mystery #2)

Author: E.V. Hunter

Published on: 10 May 2023

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Buy on Amazon: Kindle | Audio Book

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Contest to Kill For is the second book in E.V Hunter’s Hopgood Hall Murder Mystery series.

Owners Cheryl and Drew Hopgood and Alexi Ellis agree to host a realty TV baking show, spearheaded by their arrogant but enigmatic head chef Marcel Gasque, at Hopgood Hall. Hopefully the ratings will bring in bookings to the struggling hotel and Cosmo, Alexi’s antisocial feral cat, is hoping to get a starring role too!

Fiery and hot-headed, Marcel’s antics makes for brilliant television, but off-screen trouble is brewing. One of the contestants, femme fatale Juliette Hammond, makes it clear that she will do anything to secure the winning prize – even if it means sweetening up the prima donna chef.

So when Juliette is found dead, all eyes turn to Marcel. Has his fiery French temper got the better of him or has someone else fallen victim to Juliette’s devious ways?

With the reputation of the hotel in tatters and Marcel’s liberty on the line, Alexi needs answers and fast. And the only person she can turn to for help is her old friend and private eye Jack Maddox. Jack’s working his own case, but he can’t refuse Alexi and he knows more than anyone that this murder could cost them everything!

Having read the first book in this series – A Date to Die For – I was eagerly waiting to see what’s next for Alexi and Jack. That story ended with Alexi agreeing to be a partner at Hopgood Hall – Alexi had lost her job as an investigative journalist and had come to lick her wounds at Hopgood Hall. Things ended well when she decided to pitch in (money) for her best friend Cheryl’s Hopgood Hall.

A Contest to Die For starts with Alexi and Cosmo visiting Hopgood Hall. The shooting is about to begin, and things are all set. Cheryl and Drew are now parents (Cheryl was preggers in the previous installment), and Marcel, their chef is also ready to show his nasty-chef attitude. The four contestants are introduced – one of them is called Juliette. She’s dressed in a raunchy attire and all eyes are on her.

As the shooting for the TV show proceeds, Cosmo begins to create a scene. He’s terrorized half of the camera crew and damaged a couple of their equipment. Finally, Cosmo gets banned from the shooting area. Meanwhile, Jack is busy with a case (he’s ex-copper-turned-PI) and longs to meet Alexi. They dated for a while, but it fizzled out soon. Both parties are very much interested in pursuing the relationship but for weird reason, they aren’t forthcoming with their feelings for each other.

Jack pays Alexi a visit but she’s not at home. So, he goes to Hopgood Hall and sees the place filled with crowd, an ambulance and police cars. He learns Juliette was found murdered in her room. But how did someone enter her room unnoticed? The contestants are filmed 24×7. Witnesses saw Juliette argue with Marcel an hour before she was found dead.

Marcel is known for his temper. When Juliette is found murdered, he becomes the main suspect. As Alexi and Jack start to investigate the case, they learn that other contestants didn’t like Juliette, and nor did the host of the show.

They dig deeper into the case, following the crumbs of clues that Juliette left – phone calls to an unknown number, her family life (controlling father), and much more. But the local police are convinced Marcel killed her. Marcel claims he’s innocent – did someone purposely set up Marcel so that he could be out of their way?

A Contest to Kill For by E.V. Hunter is an enjoyable read. Cosmo, Alexi’s feral cat (and looks like a panther) steals the show. He’s terrorized the entire film crew. There comes a time when Alexi and Jack have to interview a suspect in a housing estate and fear their car tyres might get stolen by the time they return – but with Cosmo guarding the car, that cannot happen.

The mystery behind the contestant’s murder kept me guessing till the end. Plenty of red herrings made it impossible to guess not only the killer’s identity but the motive for murder too. The only niggle I had with this story was the ending. The motive and killer’s identity were unexpected and shocking – I didn’t see it coming, yes. But I didn’t like it much.

It goes without saying that this was yet another entertaining and enjoyable addition to the series. I am looking forward to knowing what’s next for Alexi and Jack.

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2 thoughts on “A Contest to Kill For by E.V. Hunter

    1. Oh yes. He’s quite a bully and sweety at the same time. Cosmo reminds me of a stray ginger cat in my area – he too bullies everyone (not just cats).

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