Death with All the Trimmings, by Lucy Burdette. Obsidian. 320 pages. Mass Market paperback $7.99.
Want to feed your murder mystery appetite and still get ready for the Christmas season? Ms. Burdette’s latest “Key West Food Critic Mystery” should be on your December reading menu. Though Haley Snow’s love life is not going smoothly, her busybody sleuthing is in high gear. And there is plenty to be sleuthing about.
A big dollop of excitement comes Haley’s way when a notable New York chef decides to open a new restaurant in Key West. Edel Waugh is a very talented woman, a perfectionist and also a nervous wreck about establishing her reputation independent of partnership with her ex-husband. Haley has been assigned by her boss and boyfriend – the editor of “Key Zest” magazine – to cover the restaurant opening.
Curiously, she has also been approached by Edel to be a kind of insider in the project. Edel has heard about Hayley’s sleuthing talents and wants her to, confidentially, investigate what looks like sabotage. Corrupted recipes are part of the problem.
A partner in the “Key Zest” enterprise, Ava Faulkner, has always disliked Hayley, and now she thinks that Hayley’s behavior is unprofessional. How can Hayley be an objective restaurant reviewer when she is helping out the owner-chef?
When Hayley learns that “Key Zest” may be attracting investors who wish to make major changes, she worries that her job is at stake. Wally is not very consoling about this problem.
However, there is worse news in Hayley’s orbit. Edel’s restaurant catches fire and, though it has not burned down and can be repaired, it will be closed until the fire is investigated. Edel is despondent. So, who has it in for Edel? Who wants the restaurant, if it ever opens, to fail?
Whoops! It’s worse than that. The fire killed someone who had been trapped in the restaurant’s storage shed. Accident? Unintended consequence? Murder? Stay with me, folks.
Much of any novel in this series focuses on Hayley in motion, darting around on her motorbike tracing a map of her life on Key West. Whether she is picking up a coffee, popping in to a favorite place for a snack, going to work in the “Key Zest” office, meeting a friend, going home to the small houseboat she shares with her much older friend Miss Gloria, or checking a restaurant that she plans to review, Hayley is a blur of activity. The reality of the Key West she knows so intimately provides the reader with a vivid, authentic setting. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the December 4, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the December 10 Fort Myers edition, the December 11 Bonita Springs edition, and the December 18 Palm Beach Garden/Jupiter and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach edtions, click here Florida Weekly – Trimmings 1 and here Florida Weekly – Trimmings 2.