Foodies rejoice! Lucy Burdette brings us a new cozy series set in Key West that has a wannabe food critic as the protagonist. The first in the series is “An Appetite for Murder.”
Our heroine, Hayley Snow, follows her new-found boyfriend (a divorce attorney) to Key West and moves in with him. She wants to escape living at home in NJ and to prove that she’s a bona fide grownup who can handle life on her own. But, mere weeks after arriving in foodie heaven, Hayley finds the boyfriend in bed with his ex, Kristen Faulkner. Rather than apologize for slipping up, he throws Hayley out – her belongings (except for her favorite cookery and treasured recipes) left on the sidewalk. He tells her that he threw the rest into the dumpster. What a cad!
Our gal may not be great at choosing boyfriends, but she has a nose for cooking and wants to be the food critic at the new local magazine, “Key Zest.” Hayley works on her restaurant appraisals and along the way, we experience mouth-watering descriptions of lunches, dinners and yummy snacks. Makes me hungry just thinking about the olive fougasse bread with garlicky cheese spread she ate while finishing an audition review.
But, wait! The girl seen in bed with the ex-boyfriend? Just happens to be the co-owner of the new magazine. Hmmm… and (of course) Kristen winds up dead, poisoned by pie, after wiping our gal’s name off the list of final contenders for the job.
Who did the deed? The police (as well as the ex-boyfriend) like Hayley for the murder because of the “bedroom incident” and the “lost application.” It doesn’t help her case that she is found snooping in the ex-boyfriend’s apartment after the murder. Suspicious break-ins occur, neighbors are mugged, her friendships are stretched to the max and Hayley needs to find out who the culprit is before she misses out on a gourmand's dream gig and gets thrown in jail for something she would never do – poison someone with food.
Real estate deals and restaurant openings worth millions, add interesting depth to this cozy as we discover how they are affected by Faulkner’s death. The gritty underbelly of the competitive restaurant scene, with its rivalry between chefs at the top of their game is spot-on in “An Appetite for Murder.” A couple real-life sous-chefs came to mind after reading one of the kitchen scenes.
When Hayley gets stuck in her investigations, she chats with homeless guys, a psychologist friend, her ex’s secretary, and a tarot card reader. She tries to feed info to the police, but she is still the one with the best motive – revenge against the girlfriend. The facts don’t necessarily support that reasoning, but the cops need a little nudge in the right direction – away from Hayley.
“An Appetite for Murder,” is a fun read with enough quirky, colorful characters and down-home, mouth-watering eats to make the Key West setting authentic. Burdette even includes three tasty looking recipes at the end of the book.
I suddenly have a craving for a slice of Key Lime pie. But, hold the poison.