Fort Myers Florida Weekly

Like a gourmet meal, ‘Murder with Ganache’ will leave you wanting more




“Murder with Ganache” by Lucy Burdette. Obsidian. 320 pages. Mass market paperback $7.99.

This fourth entry in the Key West Food Critic Mystery Series is a bit darker than the first three. It’s just as enjoyable, but not so much in a laugh-outloud way.

Restaurant critic Hayley Snow, an enchanting young woman striving to prove herself as an independent adult in her adopted home town, has a lot of bowling pins in the air at once. Can she juggle them all successfully?

Just when she needs some relief from the deadline pressures of her assignments with Key Zest Magazine, Hayley gets additional assignments, including one on the Hemingway cats, with almost immediate due dates.



What has complicated her life is her agreement to manage her friend Connie’s wedding. It’s just around the corner, and that means relatives and friends are piling into town and need Hayley’s attention. Among the newly arrived are Hayley’s mother Janet and Janet’s beau, Sam; Hayley’s father and his second wife, Allison; and Allison’s teenage son from her first marriage, 15-year-old Rory, whose brooding teenage angst is on display. Is it just that he doesn’t want to be there? Or is something else bothering him?

Before we know what has Rory in such a distressed state, he disappears into Key West’s spring break scene. After frantic searching by Hayley, the other relatives and the police, Rory is discovered beaten up and unconscious. Worse, he is found to be the last person to have been seen with a teenage girl who has turned up dead. Comatose Rory is soon the prime suspect in a murder case. When he regains consciousness, he cannot seem to remember much about what happened. Or is he just hiding the truth?



Stepsister Hayley cannot keep from leading her own investigation, often risking the wrath of the law enforcement professionals.

Rory’s predicament soon brings his irascible bully of a father onto the scene. One can readily understand how the tug of war between this man and his ex-wife Allison shaped Rory’s upbringing. It’s amazing that Rory can function at all.

Suddenly, the wedding is called off. A confrontation between Connie’s father, who unexpectedly shows up (even though they had been estranged), and her fiancé Ray leads to a meltdown of the lovers’ relationship. Ray’s parents, as well as all the other family members, are perplexed by the situation, but Ray won’t talk and Connie feels betrayed and lost.

Now Hayley has even more to worry about.

Lucy Burdette gives depth to this book by dissecting the modern family in all its divorce, remarry, reshape, share kids, make nice, stay enraged, give up, try again glory and gloom. Hayley’s caring yet determined nature often provides the healing salve that lowers the anxiety level and heals torn relationships. The author’s background as a clinical psychologist clearly enriches her handling of this material.

TheT constant charms in the Key West Food Critic Mystery booksbo are, as one might expect, the attention to Key West and the attentionatt to food — as nourishment, me delight, art, business and socialso lubricant.

As Hayley’s endeavors have herhe on and off her motor scooter, er zipping all over the island, we becomebe familiar with its neighborhoods, b establishments and We explore the Wcct Key West lifestyle, representative character types, its paradisiacal climate and even the friction that can rough up the island’s laidl back cultural atmosphere. HaleyH is still a short-time resident of the island, and as we watch her internalize its nuanced flavors, we absorb them for ourselves.

Because writing about food — and the establishments that prepare and serve it — is Hayley’s occupation, readers learn a lot about that as well. The author takes readers into a gastronomical world that keeps them alternately satisfied and hungry.

One special feature of the books in this series is the appendix of mouth-watering recipes with which each concludes.

Spritely and suspenseful, “Murder with Ganache” has a unique piquancy. Like a gourmet meal, it will leave you wanting more..

— Phil Jason, Ph. D., United States Naval Academy professor emeritus of English, is a poet, critic and freelance writer with 20 books to his credit, including several studies of war literature and a creative writing text.

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