I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.
Death on the Menu: A Key West Food Critic Mystery
8th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (August 7, 2018)
Hardcover: 295 Pages
Digital ASIN: B078MBKH95
When a killer strikes just before flan time, beloved food critic Hayley Snow is forced to sniff out the killer before someone else bites the dust.
Hayley Snow, fiery food critic for Key Zest magazine, has just landed a ticket to one of the most prestigious events in Key West: a high-brow three-day conference at the Harry Truman Little White House. Even though she’ll be working the event helping her mother’s fledgling catering business, there’s plenty of spicy gossip to go around. But just before her mother’s decadent flan is put to the test, Key West’s most prized possession, Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal for The Old Man and the Sea, is discovered stolen from its case.
Unsavory suspicions point to Gabriel, a family friend and one of the new busboys working the event, who mysteriously goes missing moments later. Anxious to clear his name, Gabriel’s family enlists Hayley to help find him, but right as they begin their search, his body is found stabbed to death in the storeroom.
Hayley has no shortage of suspects to interrogate and very little time before the killer adds another victim to the menu in national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s delectable eighth Key West Food Critic mystery, Death on the Menu.
Hayley Snow is a food critic writer for the local Key Zest Magazine in Key West, Florida, but has been caught up in her mom’s huge catering opportunity for the lavish and historic Key West/Havana conference to be held at the Harry Truman Little White House on the island. Her mother is over-the-top thrilled for the catering opportunity thinking the success of which would mean solid future success for her fledgling catering business. She has hired additional local personnel to help with the menu and set up.
The unusual event has been orchestrated to bring both the Cuban dignitaries and the American officials together hopefully to quiet tensions between the two countries. Hayley has been asked, politely, by her detective boyfriend (Nathan) bordering on serious suitor, to please stay out of it as with the officials involved, promised protests, and security tight but nervous, the event could turn nasty.
The event has invited some major guests, set up displays, and scheduled tours, including that of Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home. Hemingway’s Nobel Prize gold medal has been loaned especially for the momentous occasion for display, but almost immediately goes missing during the first dinner at the Little White House. It is the son of one of her local assistants that is an immediate POI, but then he is found stabbed in a kitchen storage room. His family asks Hayley to please help with the investigation.
This is apparently the eighth installment of the Key West Food Critic Mystery series but my introduction to both the series and the author. I’ve read of Key West before, but the author really gets you onto the surface streets to the real town, the flavor, the sights, smells, and the people. I loved her description of the architecture and the colors, the ethnic mix of people and the food. And the history–loved it–not only the stories about the Truman Little White House–I never knew–and it also played host to Taft, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton. (Truman felt that the “white house” was wherever the president was.)
And Hemingway, his stories are larger than life, as was he. All of them true. He wrote To Have and Have Not during his (1930’s) years in Key West. And he loved cats? Seriously? Not just cats–five-toed cats–polydactyls.
But back to the plot:
It’s a cozy.
I’ve often mentioned that for me a cozy mystery seems to dawdle. There is always a reason, reprising the protagonist for those new to the series. Bringing in the support characters, in this case, her beloved roomie, Miss Gloria, is up in years but not old. (Also recruited to help with the festivities.) She lives on Houseboat Row, which sounds ducky, until you try to figure out how the black tank is emptied. Otherwise, I got such a mental picture of her life on the island, I wanted to get the fish scale scraper.
The food. Not so much into the food–especially spicy–but “ropa vieja” sounded interesting and definitely got my attention with flan. Did someone say Flan? I love flan! (Almost every version of it!) However, the recipe presented at the back of the book prepared enough to feed an army. You’d definitely have to cut it down, but then reading the directions, it sounds like too much trouble. Next time I’ll understand why it’s one of the more expensive desserts on the menu.
Hayley is from the “interview the suspects” school of thought. Unfortunately, everyone at the event becomes a suspect and because of the tight security, only those vetted allowed to attend. How to narrow it down? Interview.
Bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, the descriptions, and most of the writing. Hayley is devoted to her mother and Miss Gloria, though her mother is not as well fleshed here as Miss Gloria, and I couldn’t get into Hayley’s boots (did she ever wear a helmet on that scooter?). Nathan? Meh. But he does seem devoted and fortunately, the romance aspect didn’t logue down the plot line. The conclusion didn’t feel wholly gratifying. The narrative might function well for others as a standalone and worked okay for me, though Hayley may be better developed in previous installments.
I was given the download by the publisher and NetGalley through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Recommended for anyone interested in the history of chugs, Cuba/Key West relations, popular Key West tourist sites, and cozy mysteries. (What is a chug? You don’t want to know.)
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars
Clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) has published 16 mysteries, including the latest in the Key West food critic series, DEATH ON THE MENU (Crooked Lane Books, August 2018.) Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. She blogs at Jungle Red Writers and shares her love for food with the culinary writers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen She lives in Madison CT and Key West FL. Read more at www.lucyburdette.com.
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Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!
August 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 1 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 2 – Mystery Lovers Kitchen – RECIPE
August 2 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 2 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 3 – Killer Characters – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 3 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
August 4 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
August 4 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
August 5 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 6 – Map Your Mystery – INTERVIEW
August 6 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW
August 6 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
August 7 – Jungle Red Writers – GUEST POST
August 7 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – RECIPE, REVIEW
August 7 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 8 – The Conscious Cat – GUEST POST
August 8 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
August 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
August 9 – Mystery Lovers Kitchen #2 – RECIPE
August 10 – Wicked Cozy Authors – GUEST POST
August 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
August 11 – Book Babble – REVIEW
August 12 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
August 13 – Mallory Heart Reviews – REVIEW
August 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
August 14 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 15 – Fabulous Florida Writers – GUEST POST
August 15 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
August 15 – Varietats – REVIEW
Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!
©2018 V Williams