Death in Four Courses
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: Sept 4, 2012
Retail Price: 7.99
The annual Key West Loves Literature seminar is drawing the biggest names in food writing from all over the country, and Haley Snow is there to catch a few fresh morsels of insider gossip. Superstar restaurant critic Jonah Barrows has already ruffled a few foodie feathers with his recent tell-all memoir, and as keynote speaker, he promises more of the same jaw-dropping honesty.
But when Hayley discovers Jonah's body in a nearby dipping pool, the cocktail hour buzz takes a sour turn, and Hayley finds herself at the center of attention--especially with the police. Now it's up to her to catch the killer before she comes to her own bitter finish.
Series: Key West Food Critic
For fans of: Jill Churchill, Maddy Hunter
When fledgling Key West food critic Haley Snow invites her mother Janet to accompany her to this year’s food-themed Key West literary conference, she figures it’ll be a good bonding experience; she hasn’t seen her mom in a while, and whatever differences the two may have, they’ve always shared a love of cooking. But when the conference’s rabble-rousing, in-your-face guest of honor, Jonah Barrows, gets himself killed during the opening festivities and family friend Eric Altman is arrested for the crime, the two quickly realize a carefree mother-daughter weekend just isn’t in the cards. Can they work together to exonerate Eric and help the police catch the real criminal, or will their investigative efforts simply land them in hot water?
Death in Four Courses is Lucy Burdette’s second Key West Food Critic Mystery. I somehow managed to miss the first in this series, so I was a bit concerned I might find myself lost when I cracked the cover of this book, but I needn’t have feared; while it’s clear a great deal happened to poor Haley in An Appetite for Murder, none of it’s central to the plot of Death in Four Courses, and Burdette does a great job introducing/reacquainting readers with Haley, her friends, her surroundings, and her circumstances.
Burdette’s prose perfectly captures the quirky, vibrant atmosphere of Key West. I don’t know if Burdette hails from that part of the country, but she clearly has a deep and abiding affection for it, and that affection colors her plot, her characters, and her prose. She also writes about food with true fondness and familiarity, which scores huge points with me. You’d think the ability to make a reader’s mouth water would be a given for any author writing a series that stars a food critic, but I’ve read far too many culinary cozies in the past year where the food is little more than an afterthought (and a bland, boring, uninspired one, at that!).
Burdette’s prose is engaging and her mystery is both well plotted and well paced, but the thing I appreciate most about her writing is her character work. Haley’s a strong, smart, caring heroine, but she’s also flawed, damaged, and toting a ton of emotional baggage, and she’s all the more likable for it. Haley’s mother Janet is also incredibly well drawn, and I’d argue that she makes for an even more compelling addition to the cast than her daughter. Yes, Janet spends a great deal of the book meddling in Haley’s affairs and embarrassing her with near-reckless abandon, but while Burdette plays her for laughs, she also takes great care to point out that in addition to being a mom, Janet is also a person. The end result is a vibrant yet nuanced character for whom readers can’t help but develop a genuine affection, and of whom I hope to see more in books to come.
Reviewed by Kat N.
Your ReviewYou must register before posting a comment.
Click to login
There are no comments to displayYou must register before posting a comment.
Click to login