Thursday, September 27, 2012

Death in Four Courses, by Lucy Burdette

I'm not sure if my recent fascination with Key West is because of an enduring interest in Ernest Hemingway and his six-toed cats, or because my friend told me this summer of a visit she and her husband made there with many of our friends from college days, a small Methodist College, I might add. It seems they accidentally picked the same week as Fantasy Fest and inadvertently wandered into a bar where pretty much the only clothes people were wearing were painted on.  Let me say from the outset that nothing like that happens in Lucy Burdette's latest mystery in her Key West Food Critic series.

Death in Four Courses, by Lucy Burdette
Obsidian Mysteries (an imprint of Penguin Group, Inc.).
2012.  Read in Kindle download

Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib
(photo by Ruthanna Terreri)
Click here to read more about the author
Haley Snow is back in Death in Four Courses, and that means I'm able to visit Key West again, albeit vicariously. Haley barely escapes being charged with murder in An Appetite for Murder, the first Key West Food Critic mystery, and in Death in Four Courses, Haley and her mother barely escape the murderer. (Click HERE if you want to read my review of book one in this series by Lucy Burdette, aka mystery writer and psychologist, Roberta Isleib.)

In the latest Key West mystery, Haley has a permanent place to live and it appears a permanent job as food critic for Key Zest magazine.  She shares her elderly neighbor Miss Gloria's houseboat, which allows Haley to stay in Key West and pursue her passion as a food writer. Toward that end Haley's mother is in town for a visit so mother and daughter can attend Key West Loves Literature conference.  Haley is covering the event and trying to buttonhole famous persons in the food writing industry who are in attendance. 

The conference gets off to an interesting start when the premier speaker, Jonah Barrows, throws out the gauntlet in his opening remarks as he pledges total honesty in all his comments during the upcoming conference sessions.  In a room where more than one person has something to hide, this spells serious trouble.  Before the conference is over, two of the famous food writers are dead and Haley's best friend, Eric, is a prime suspect.  Eric won't defend himself against the police suspicions, so Haley feels she must investigate to keep her friend out of jail. 

It is potentially problematic in a series featuring an amateur sleuth to manufacture a believable reason for the main character to get involved in the dangerous pursuit of a murderer, but Burnette's rationale for Haley's involvement worked for me in this mystery.  Haley's potential love interest, Police Detective Bransford, makes another appearance and other secondary characters from book one return, adding a sense of community and continuity to the series for me. 

Because there is much discussion about food in this book--which even includes recipes, such as: MK's Screw of the Roux Stew (like traditional Louisiana gumbo with tomatoes added); Hot Fudge Pie (delicious-sounding chocolate decadence); and Rhubarb Cake with Streusel Topping (another rhubarb recipe to try)--I'm counting this as part of my Foodies Read 2 reading challenge.  In my somewhat casual count, I think this is my seventh book in this reading challenge, placing me currently at Pastry Chef level.....hmmm, in charge of pastries, sounds like a good position to be in.

I like this cozy and easy-reading Key West Food Critic series.  I'm not sure if the concept contains enough depth to maintain my interest over the course of a lengthy series, but I'm enjoying them at the moment.


  1. Sometimes a frothy mystery is just what we need but I know what you mean about sustaining through the series.

    I'll add this to my TBR list and mark it accordingly. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. I agree and while I love series, I always lose interest after awhile. The problem may be mine :-)!

  2. I love Key West, such a tiny community, and yes, a frothy mystery is sometimes what we need!

    1. Key West is on my bucket list--I'm not sure I want to be there for Fantasy Fest, however! I love light-hearted mysteries after a hard week, and I'm having lots of those intense work weeks, so this is like a dose of fresh air.