“An Appetite for Murder,” by Lucy Burdette. Obsidian. 320 pp. $7.99.
Part time Key West resident Roberta Isleib, well established as a mystery writer under her own name, has just adopted the pen name Lucy Burdette to launch a new series. “An Appetite for Murder,” which inaugurates the Key West Food Critic Mystery series, is a terrific start.
Hayley Snow, the protagonist, is a darling young woman who is venturing forth to make an independent life of her own a couple of years out of college.
She has fallen in love with Key West as a place to try her wings. Hayley has a couple of good friends who already live there, and she recently fell for a man who asked her to come there and move in with him. On the romance score, the move turned out to be a bad decision, as this aggressive divorce lawyer dumped her within a few months. It seems as if the guy was on the rebound from a break-up when he met Hayley, but then returned to the other woman. In fact, Hayley walked in on the two of them.
To complicate matters a bit (actually, more that a bit), that woman, Kristen Faulkner, comes from a wealthy and influential Key West family. She heads a new venture, a lifestyle magazine named “Key Zest,” and Hayley is seeking the announced position as its food critic. Can she get a job working for her rival? No matter, before long Kristen Faulkner is found poisoned to death and Hayley is the primary suspect. Was it the key lime pie?
Though the police would rather she didn’t, Hayley can’t help but put her own intelligence to work toward solving the mystery. Her suggestions are essentially ignored, and she remains a “person of interest” through much of the novel. Without an alibi, with opportunity, and with a good enough motive (jealousy), Hayley is a very convenient suspect.
While the twists and turns of Hayley’s investigation provide plenty of suspense, including a threat to her life, her desperate pursuit of the food critic position provides another suspenseful plot. It also provides plenty of interest regarding the restaurant business, food preparation, and even recipes. Hayley is a diehard foodie. There are even a few recipes at the end of the book!
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the February 15, 2012 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 16 issue of the Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Lucy Burdette pdf