Even though Lucy Burdette has a new publisher for her Key West Food Critic Mystery series, rest assured that the same loveable characters, sun-soaked setting, and humorous escapades remain present and accounted for.
Death on the Menu finds series heroine, Hayley Snow, helping her mother cater a controversial summit meeting designed to improve relations between Key West and Cuba. The special setting for this three-day event is the Harry S. Truman Little White House, an iconic Key West landmark. This, of course, allows Burdette to weave some fascinating history about the building into her mystery plot.
One can hardly ruminate on Key West and Havana and not immediately think of Ernest Hemingway, so it only follows that the instigating crime would center on that legendary writer. What starts off as a political catastrophe – the theft of Hemingway’s Noble Prize gold medal (on loan from Cuba) – quickly escalates to a murder investigation. With no shortage of suspects, this could be a PR nightmare.
Despite warnings from her boyfriend, Hayley begins to investigate the crime at the urging of the victim’s family. Amateur sleuths are a hallmark of the cozy mystery genre and Hayley is a prime example of why. Ever inquisitive, Hayley’s interest in this situation feels organic and her methods of investigation – while not always the smartest – never stray into unbelievable territory. Readers easily buy into her willingness to become involved even when the logical thing would be to let the professionals handle it.
At the core of this series will always be the food and here Burdette delivers once again. Just reading the menus and the descriptions of the ethnic cuisine will have readers salivating. Fortunately, the inclusion of some classic Cuban recipes at the back of the book make bringing home a taste of Hayley Snow’s Key West as easy as a quick trip to the grocery store.
The Key West Food Critic books are perfect for the summer months. Lucy Burdette’s writing style is leisurely and natural. Short chapters keep the plot rolling along, while the authentic depiction of the locale allows an imaginary mind-vacation to magnificent Key West. The tidbits of history and interesting facts about various topics that pepper the plot elevate this series above some of the more completely light-hearted and frivolous cozy series available.
Once the mystery is solved – and of course, readers know that is going to happen – Lucy Burdette wraps up the novel with a hint at developments that will likely form the centerpiece of the next novel is this delightful series. Long-time fans of these books will be excited about what is in store for Hayley and the gang moving forward.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.