|Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib|
(photo by Ruthanna Terreri)
Click here to read more about the author
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.