Murder with Ganache, by Lucy Burdette. Obsidian. 320 pages. Mass market paperback $7.99.
This fourth entry in the Key West Food Critic Mystery Series is a bit darker than the first three. It is just as enjoyable, but not so much in a laugh out loud way. Restaurant critic Hayley Snow, an enchanting young woman striving to prove herself as an independent adult in her adopted home town, has a lot of bowling pins in the air at once. Can she juggle them all successfully?
Just when she needs some relief from the deadline pressures of her assignments with “Key Zest Magazine,” she gets additional assignments, including one on the Hemingway cats, with almost immediate due dates. What has complicated her life is her agreement to manage her friend Connie’s wedding. It’s just around the corner, and that means relatives and friends are piling into town and need Hayley’s attention.
Among the newly arrived are Hayley’s mother Janet and Janet’s beau, Sam; Hayley’s father and his second wife Allison; and Allison’s teenage son from her first marriage, fifteen year old Rory. Rory’s brooding teenage angst is on display. Is it just that he doesn’t want to be there? Or is something else bothering him?
Before we know what has Rory in a distressed state, he disappears into Key West’s spring break scene. After frantic searching by Hayley, their relatives and the police, Rory is discovered beaten up and unconscious. Worse, he is found to be the last person to have been seen with a teenage girl who has turned up dead. Comatose Rory is soon the prime suspect in a murder case. When he regains consciousness, he cannot seem to remember much about what happened. Or is he just hiding the truth?
Stepsister Hayley cannot keep from leading her own investigation, often risking the wrath of the law enforcement professionals.
Rory’s predicament soon brings his irascible bully of a father onto the scene. One can readily understand how the tug of war between this man and his ex-wife Allison shaped Rory’s upbringing. It’s amazing that Rory can function at all.
Suddenly, the wedding is called off. A confrontation between Connie’s father, who unexpectedly shows up though they had been estranged, and her fiancé Ray leads to a meltdown of the lovers’ relationship. Ray’s parents, as well as all the other family members, are perplexed by the situation, but Ray won’t talk and Connie feels betrayed and lost.
Now Hayley has even more to worry about. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 19, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 20 Naples, Bonita Springs,and Charlotte County editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Burdette’s Ganache