Monday, May 13, 2013

Topped Chef - Lucy Burdette




Topped Chef
A Key West Food Critic Mystery
Lucy Burdette
Obsidian
 
Mystery
 
Life is never dull in Key West.  As the food critic for local magazine, Key Zest, Hayley snow just hit a milestone: her first negative restaurant review.  Any owner is going to be unhappy about a not-great review, and Hayley feels more than a little guilty about panning someone’s livelihood.  Her guilt evaporates just a bit when she enters her office one morning to find chef Sam Rizzoli in her boss’ office, yelling.  But Wally, Hayley’s boss, has been in the business for a while, and tells her that being honest is more important than being nice.

And while we’re on the topic of honesty, there’s a reality TV cooking show taping in Key West, and they want Hayley to be one of the judges.  The first taping session starts in about half an hour.  Hayley is horrified to discover that Sam is going to be one of her fellow judges.  When he’s not disagreeing with her, he ignores her.  That night, police and emergency crews converge on one of the local docks to remove a body hanging from a ship’s rigging.  It’s Sam.  Once again, Hayley finds herself involved in a murder investigation.
 
This is the third installment of this fun series, following AN APPETITE FOR MURDER and MURDER IN FOUR COURSES.  Anyone who enjoys mysteries based around cooking will enjoy this series.  Hayley has really grown over the past two books, and she’s coming into her own as a food critic.  Her struggle with writing and publishing a negative review is something that really resonates with me.  It never feels good to say negative things about someone’s work, even if those things are true. 
 
Fortunately, I have no such problems here.  The Key West setting is fantastic, as always.  The author makes the setting and characters really come alive.  It’s fun to watch Hayley navigate her way through the kinds of career and personal incidents that any reader can understand.  The supporting cast is an interesting and believable group of individuals.  The backdrop of the reality cooking contest just adds an extra bit of spice to this satisfying concoction.  I’m hoping for another helping of Hayley and Company very soon.  And I’ll be trying the included recipe for lime cupcakes even sooner.
 
Rating: 7 ½
May 2013
ISBN# 978-0-451-23970-9 (paperback)

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