Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Murder With Ganache - Lucy Burdette

Murder With Ganache
A Key West Food Critic Mystery
Lucy Burdette

It’s a busy time for Hayley Snow.  As always, she’s working to complete food reviews for Key Zest.  Her best friend, Connie, is getting married at the end of the week.  Hayley is desperately trying to find time to bake the key lime cupcakes for the reception.  And Hayley’s family (Connie’s surrogate family) is arriving for the wedding.  The family includes mom and her boyfriend, Sam; dad and his wife (and Hayley’s stepmom) Allison, and Allison’s son (Hayley’s stepbrother) Rory.  Having this whole group together in one place is a new experience for everyone.
Hayley hasn’t seen Rory since he was a child, since he lives most of the time with his father.  The sweet child she remembers is gone.  In his place is a sullen teenager who is far more interested in getting on a jet ski than in anything to do with the wedding.  During the wedding shower, it becomes clear that letting him explore the street outside is preferable to having him moaning and whining at everyone.  When he’s not back by curfew, Hayley is worried.  His disappearance, coupled with the report of a jet ski stolen from a dock by a couple of kids, can only mean trouble.   The next morning, they find Rory, unconscious, with the clear imprint of a chain on his hand.  Miles away, the body of a teenaged girl floats in the ocean, the clear imprint of a chain around her neck.

While Rory lies unconscious in the ICU, the police get to work.  It looks pretty bad for Rory.  Of course, his mother claims he’s incapable of something like this, but he doesn’t live with her.  And his father was planning to send him to military school due to discipline problems.  How much do any of them really know about Rory?  How much does any parent know about the inner life of their child?  Or about teenage culture; or, specifically, teenagers’ actions in Key West during spring break?  How do you parse out independence and privacy and safety and guidance?  This installment (AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, DEATH IN FOUR COURSES, and TOPPED CHEF) explores a seedier side of the vacation spot.
It’s a very organic reason for Hayley to get involved in the case.  She remembers the sweet kid he was, and feels guilty for not keeping in closer touch, despite the age difference between them.  The presence of her family both motivates and anchors her.  It’s interesting to watch the dynamics change during times of stress.  Through all of this, there’s a subplot involving Connie and her wedding that echoes, in a smaller way, the chaos around Rory.  As always, there are recipes included.  (I must try the key lime cupcakes.)  The mystery plot is nicely twisty, with the outcome never assured.  Even though a lot of people seem to die there, I’d love to visit this Key West that the author clearly loves so much.

Rating: 7 ½
February 2014
ISBN# 978-0-451-46589-4 (paperback)


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