Death in Four Courses, by Lucy Burdette. Signet Obsidian. 320 pages. $7.99.
The second title in Ms. Burdette’s Key West Food Critic mysteries builds firmly and sure-handedly on the first, An Appetite for Murder, published (and reviewed in these pages) early this year. As readers will expect, murder will find budding food critic Hayley Snow as she tries to solidify her job writing restaurant reviews for a life style magazine named “Key Zest.” This time, two murders find her and her visiting mother disappears.
Taking advantage of Key West’s popularity as a setting for writers’ conferences, Lucy Burdette imagines a special conference for food writers. Hayley, of course, is excited about covering this important event for the magazine. She can rub elbows with some of the movers and shakers in the field while enjoying and writing about the special dining treats that are part of the conference. When the keynote speaker, tell-all food guru Jonah Barrows, is murdered, Hayley can’t help but look into the case, especially when her good friend Eric becomes the primary suspect. Of course one’s close friends are never murderers.
Especially when she’s the one who found Barrows lifeless in a decorative pool.
Hayley’s meddling behavior, assisted nobly by her energetic and perceptive mother, does not improve her tenuous relationship with the heartthrob detective, Nate Bransford, who leads the investigation.
Well, murder gossip is exciting, but it throws a cold blanket on the conference. Dustin Fredericks, the organizer and host of the affair, has a big problem breathing life back into the event and keeping it on track. His problem grows even larger when another of the featured speakers is found dead.
While looking for the conference’s missing Chinese food specialist, Yoshe King, Hayley and mom come upon her lifeless body on a pile of waterfront rocks just below the balcony of her bed-and-breakfast room. Is it suicide –or foul play? Does Yoshe’s death have anything to do with Jonah’s?
Mother and daughter push on . . . and on, until the resolution of both mysteries. The springs of suspense are wound tighter and tighter as the novel progresses. Clearing Eric of suspicion would seem to demand the determined action of this dynamic duo. . . .
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the September 26, 2012 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the September 27 Naples and Spacecoast editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Lucy Burdette