Even before opening the cover of Murder with Ganache, the latest Key West Food Critic mystery by Lucy Burdette, it is clear that this is going to be an enjoyable and entertaining reading experience.  The delightful pink, purple and green color scheme of the cover image along with the promise of an outdoor wedding, delicious food and troublesome cats set the scene for the reader.

As the novel opens, Hayley Snow is whipping up a batch of key lime cupcakes for the impending nuptials of her best friend Connie.  When a kitchen disaster in the form of a canine/feline ruckus destroys much of her hard work, Hayley should have known that this week was going to be anything but smooth sailing.

Hayley quickly learns that not only is she going to have to act as referee between her divorced parents (who are attending the wedding with their current significant others), but she also has to keep her semi-delinquent step-brother Rory occupied and out of trouble.  Things only get worse when Rory appears to have stolen a jet ski with the aid of troubled teen girl, crashed the water vehicle and barely survived the incident.  But the real problem is that his female companion didn’t survive and Rory is starting to look more like a suspect than a victim. To make matters worse, Connie is using the incident as a reason to cancel her wedding.

Once again, Burdette makes Key West the star of the novel.  Readers will long to visit this tropical paradise as they follow Hayley around the island while she tries to protect her family, support her best friend and keep her day job at the local newspaper.  By peppering her plot with true local tidbits, Burdette entices her readers to celebrate all that is unique and quirky about Key West, Florida.

From the neighborhood bench that has its own Facebook page (where folks are constantly posting pictures of themselves sitting) to the Hemingway House and its cadre of feline residents, Key West clearly exists in a consciousness all its own.

Lucy Burdette certainly knows how to make her characters relatable to the reader.  Every one of us can understand what it is like to mediate a lunch where the folks involved don’t particularly like each other (in Hayley’s case, the attendees are her mother and step-mother).  And Hayley’s struggles at work, with a boss who doesn’t exactly respect her, are universal as well.  The subplot with the teens of Project Lighthouse also feels very realistic and Hayley’s involvement is very true to her character.  These moments which serve to humanize Hayley only endear her to the reader further.

Polar Vortex be damned!  Reading Murder with Ganache by Lucy Burdette is like reaching into a pre-heated oven for a dish that is seasoned with all the correct ingredients – mystery, romance, family conflict and food.  Readers just know that each morsel is going to taste scrumptious and they will soon be back at the buffet longing for another helping.


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