Death in Four Courses (Key West Food Critic)
by Lucy Burdette
Review by Harriet Klausner
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451237835
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Key West magazine's boss Wally warns his food critic Haley Snow that his partner Ava wants to fire her. The reporter assumes Ava's anger towards her is associated with the murder of her late sister Kristen in which Haley was the prime suspect though she proved her innocence (see An Appetite For Murder).
Haley is covering the annual Key West Loves Literature seminar. The focus is on culinary fiction and nonfiction while the attendants are food critics from around the country. Her mom, from New Jersey, is visiting to attend the symposium with her daughter, but is staying in the guest room of her friends, Eric (from Haley’s hometown) and Bill, as Haley has no room in her small rental on a houseboat.
The superstar attraction is critic Jonah Barrows who gives the opening remarks centered on utter transparency as the truth is what sets apart the great critic from the hacker. He says his memoir will upset many people and so will the panels he hosts over the next few days. After an argument in the bathroom with star attendees, Haley needs a breather to calm down. She sits by a reflecting pool only to find the corpse of Jonah lying inside. She also notices nearby that one of the three bird statues has been broken.
KWPD Officer Torrance leads the investigation though Haley would prefer it if Detective Nate Bransford led the investigation. Her friend is the prime suspect due to the webcam showing him leaving the murder scene and other connections to the deceased. A second homicide occurs as Haley investigates.
The second Key West Food Critic mystery is an engaging culinary whodunit starring a courageous journalist, who is just as nosy as her mom about Key West and the other food critics. The storyline starts somewhat slow as Lucy Burdette introduces the eccentric cast. Once Haley finds Jonah's body, the plot accelerates into a police procedural that becomes superseded by the amateur sleuths.
Haley is a spunky character who holds the plot together as she deals with her embarrassing mom, her shaky job situation, her friend heading to jail, and a fear she could be the next ingredient in a killer's recipe. Her mom brings comic relief until she gets into trouble when she follows a suspect. The location is superb as Key West has quirky natives from many parts of the country, taxi-bikes where the parrot on the taxi asks where you are going, and special food (recipes are included). Key West makes a perfect place for a delicious culinary cozy as Barrows learns the dead way that the “truth will set you free” (John 8:32).