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An Appetite for Murder
A Key West Food Critic Mystery, No1
Lucy Burdette

Jan 2012/ ISBN: 978-0-451-23551-0
Mystery/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Hayley Snow met the man of her dreams, and quickly left her New Jersey home to follow him to Key West, Florida. Convinced her passionate relationship was true love, she had a rude awakening when she found him in bed with another woman. He kicked Hayley to the curb in short order, along with most of her belongings. She picked herself up and moved in with college friend, Connie, who had a tiny spare room on her houseboat. Hayley·s cat took up residence too, and soon Hayley found an opening for a job she really wanted -- that of a Food Critic for a new magazine, Key Zest.

When Hayley and another friend, Eric, go to Seven Fish Restaurant so she can write a restaurant review to show her skills to the editor of Key Zest they run into the jerk, Chad Lutz, who dumped her. To make matters worse, he is with the 'other woman' Kristen Faulkner, who just happens to be Hayley's potential new boss at Key Zest. The next morning, Kristen is dead, murdered, and Hayley is the number one person of interest.

Naturally, situations arise that make Hayley feel it is necessary for her to solve the crime alone, since the police aren·t looking any further than her. She even has a lousy lawyer who doesn't believe in her innocence. Hayley blathers, bumbles, and makes one bad decision after another. Could she possibly have the smarts to find the killer?

Author Lucy Burdette also writes as Roberta Isleib, and I have really enjoyed her previous work. However, this book annoyed me a great deal. There were loose ends, albeit small ones, that were never tied up. For example, after the houseboat Hayley is living on is ransacked, the police instruct Haley and Connie to get new locks. Yet there is never any mention of this again, unless I missed it entirely. The protagonist, Hayley, knows she freezes up with writing deadlines, yet she expects a career as a food critic? She has no source of income that I could see, and while she does review downscale restaurants to save money when writing audition reviews, she has $20 a week to spend on tarot card readings from a street vendor and money to buy food at an expensive bakery. She also buys food to cook at home and to cook for friends. In particular, one situation bothered me. Hayley is forced off the road in a borrowed car, then shot at and the police have no leads on a suspect. Yet the next morning, Hayley is right back out on the road on her usual mode of transport, a scooter. She even debates wearing her safety helmet at one point. By then I had decided that this character is one dim bulb.

We got through most of the book without Hayley becoming attracted to Detective Bransford, who is investigating the murder. That was a redeeming feature for me, because it is so cliché. Sure enough, towards the end, Hayley starts noticing how cute he is, and even agrees to go out with him.

If you can overlook some things that bothered me, (perhaps your willing suspension of disbelief is stronger than mine) the murder mystery itself is a good one. I didn't guess the final twist or who the killer was. Both points in the book·s favor. If you are a die-hard fan of Isleib, definitely read this book. I've read the preview of the next book, and will read the entire book in September 2012 with the hope that the author has matured Hayley and given her a rational brain. One can always hope!

Reviews of other titles in this series

An Appetite for Murder#1
Death In Four Courses #2
Topped Chef #3
Murder with Ganache #4
Death on the Menu #

Reviewed 2012
© 2012