Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Book Review: A Dish to Die for by Lucy Burdette (A Key West Food Critic Mystery #12)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Hayley, Nathan, other characters, the island setting
Cons: Plot weak overall
The Bottom Line:
Body on the beach
Sets up uneven story
Only for the fans

Murder on a Neighboring Key

I’ve fallen in love with Key West thanks solely to the Key West Food Critic Mysteries from Lucy Burdette.  Since the last largely took place over in Scotland, I was looking forward to returning in A Dish to Die for.

Even when you live in paradise, you need a break.  That’s why Hayley Snow is taking a few hours with her friend Eric and their dogs and heading to a beach on one of the nearby islands.  However, the day takes a sad turn when Hayley’s dog finds a dead body half buried in the sand.  The man was G.G. Garcia, a Key West developer who had a bad reputation.  The local police think there is something suspicious about his death, and Hayley gets pulled into the investigation.  Will she figure out what really happened?

I enjoy it when a victim is bad because it gives us plenty of suspects in his death.  In this case, I feel like G.G. was a little too bad.  Some of his offenses seemed to just be thrown in there just because and not really to help define his character.  I almost felt like there was a virtuousness is pointing out how evil G.G. was because of these things he had done, especially since they didn’t really go anywhere and he was bad enough without mentioning them.  Other parts of his personality make this one closer to a soft boiled mystery than a cozy for me.

While the plot starts out strongly with Hayley finding the body quickly, the plot languishes for much of the book.  It’s not just me, the police and Hayley are frustrated by the lack of forward progress.  Unfortunately, it makes the ending feel a little abrupt.

Then there’s a sub-plot that was half-baked.  I’m interested to see what it means for Hayley in the future, but we really should have had a better set up for what happened.

It wasn’t all bad, however.  It was great to be back on Key West.  Yes, there’s plenty of action there, and I enjoyed visiting familiar and new places.  Yes, we are still visiting places Hayley hasn’t taken us in the past.

The characters are all wonderful as well, and I enjoyed watching some of them grow here.  This is especially true for Nathan, Hayley’s husband.  His estranged father shows up on the island, and I enjoyed their dynamic and how it allowed Nathan and his relationship with Hayley to both grow.

If the food in this book makes your mouth water, don’t worry.  We get five recipes at the end to enjoy later.

There is promise in this book, but there are some rough edges that needed to be smoothed over.  A Dish to Die for will entertain fans, but those new to the series shouldn’t jump in here.

Enjoy the rest of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Lyn here. Good review. Is this an indie pub series or traditional or small press?

  2. I read the first book in this series years ago and I remember enjoying it though for whatever reason I never continued with the series. Too bad about the abrupt ending but this may be the only way I get to Key West for awhile so this still sounds pretty good!

  3. What a fun cozy mystery! The series sounds great

  4. Love it when a book makes you fall in love with a place!

    Thanks for sharing this review with Weekend Cooking!

  5. I have a couple culinary cozies on my list for this month. This series is new to me, I'll put it on the list. If I like the characters, I can forgive a few plot flaws.

  6. Bummer that didn't work out. I have had a few disappointments with reading lately as well.

  7. Lucy Burdette's cozies are popular at the Book Cellar store where I volunteer.


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