Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Death in Four Courses - a Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette

This deliciously entertaining book based in Florida, is a murder mystery taking place over the duration of a conference of food critics and cookbook authors. The attendee characters run a gamut of restless, snobbish, overzealous, and friendly, but all have secrets buried and the star speaker has just announced that there should be clarity and transparency in the writings of all, basing it particularly on transparency of who the original recipes come from. One might expect this to be a reasonable statement, but he goes on to naming names and explicitly states he will expose all their secrets over the next few days.

At first glance this seems like it will be a high-class conference, but once we get into the meat of the book, comfort meals are more readily embraced when the arrogant yet esteemed food critic, star of the conference, ends up dead. How many cooks cherish their grandmothers' recipes I wonder? It seems that not only traditional home cooking revolves around these treasured memories, but some of the cookbooks also feature original recipes from the past, but whose past?

This is a question that runs through the story and appears to be related to a further death. Was it murder or suicide?

Our plucky food critic reporter, Hayley Snow, on her first major assignment for "Key Zest" to the conference, befriends some of these authors and food critics, and of course, is the first to discover not one but two bodies. Accompanied by her mother with whom she has had a volatile relationship for years, these two play off each other beautifully. As their relationship changes during her mother's visit, the partnership becomes serious yet playful as they involve themselves in solving these murders, a matter that is causing some major stress for Hayley, particularly when her mother goes missing, and in her blooming relationship with the very handsome and very protective Detective Nate Bransford. But how can they leave this alone when one of their long-time friends is being investigated for murder?

I really enjoyed reading this book, the second in the Key West Food Critic mystery series. It is well-written with good solid characterizations, great descriptions of place, and as a bonus a few recipes are included which I'm sure I'm going to enjoy as well. I'm sure this series by Lucy Burdette will soon be on the menu for many readers.

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