Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: Death with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mysteries #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Murder with some different Christmas activities
Cons: Sub-plots take over a bit at times
The Bottom Line:
Sabotage, murder
Mystery set at Christmas
Give book festive flair

Christmas brings Sabotage and Murder to Key West

I’ve always enjoyed reading a book or two set at Christmas during December, so when I realized that Lucy Burdette would have a Christmas book in her Key West Food Critics series, I had to give it a read.  Death with All the Trimmings proves to be a fun escape to a place where a white Christmas is only a dream.  Sadly, death and mayhem is all too read.

The books center on Hayley Snow, the early twenty-something food critic for a local e-zine called Key Zest.  Along with reviewing all kinds of restaurants in town, she finds herself getting involved with mysteries, much to the dismay of the police and her family and friends.  But we get to tag along again for another fun ride.

If Hayley was wishing for a restful Christmas in Key West, Florida, she wasn’t going to get it.  Her latest assignment is to cover the opening of Bistro on the Bight, the new restaurant from Chef Edel Waugh.  Edel, along with her husband, had made a name for herself in New York, but after a much publicized divorce, Edel has moved to Key West to start over.  She is desperate to make a success of this new restaurant to prove she can compete on her own as a chef.

However, someone is out to stop her.  Edel asks Hayley to poke around and see who is trying to sabotage the restaurant before it even opens.  It’s just little things like too much salt in the sauce or peanut oil in the dressing, but these things can certainly ruin a restaurant.  Then the shed behind the restaurant catches fire and a body is found in the aftermath.  Who was the victim?  And who crossed the line from sabotage to murder?

While my plot teaser focused on the mystery, there is much going on here besides the mystery.  Someone is considering buying Key Zest, putting Hayley’s job in jeopardy.  And her mother, who has decided to winter in the area, is dealing with some issues of her own.  Unfortunately, I felt these sub-plots took over at times, and the mystery was a bit underdeveloped as a result.  Still, everything does come together for a logical climax, although that felt a little rushed to me.

Now this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy those sub-plots.  By book five, I’ve grown to really like these characters, and I enjoyed seeing them in action.  I really love Hayley’s elderly houseboat mate, Miss Gloria.  She is a hoot.  The new characters are great as well.  Fans of the books the author wrote under her own name will recognize Hayley’s cousin, golf pro Cassie Burdette.  The characters kept me engaged and looking forward to what would happen next in all the various stories that the book had going on.  (And I got a kick out of the very minor character named Marcus Baker.)

Mixed in with the murder, we get nice glimpses of Christmas in Key West.  It definitely sounds like they have some fun out of the norm traditions, and I’ve love to go see them in person.  Until all the money comes pouring in I’d need to afford that, I’ll gladly settle for reading about them here.

And as you’d expect from a culinary mystery, we are treated to recipes after the story is over.  This time there are half a dozen, including delicious sounding Scarlett O’Hara Cupcakes, a Spaghetti Bolognese, and Decadent Key Lime Parfaits.  I’d love to try any of them.

I enjoyed mixing a dose of mystery with my Christmas this year, but even if you save Death with All the Trimmings for some other time of the year, you’ll enjoy your trip to Key West during Christmas.  Fans of the series will definitely enjoy and be clambering for more.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Looking for more tropical murder?  Check out the rest of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries in order.


  1. I've been to Key West for New Year's Eve and it was definitely an adventure! I imagine Christmas would be fun too. This is a series that is on my TBR and in fact I have the first book sitting on my shelf waiting for me. Glad to know this is a good series even if does sound like it suffers from the cozy subplot overload!

    1. At the moment, I'd take a visit to Key West period.

      The series overall has been good, and I'm glad I started reading it. If you like cozies, I think you'll enjoy it, too.