Fatal Reservations: A Key West Food Critic Mystery
By: Lucy Burdette
Publication Date: July 2015
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 9, 2015
It was business as usual for Haley Snow, both on the business and home front scenes. She had high hopes for a romance with Wally at work and it was the same old, same old stuff with Miss Gloria at home. “Where did you get your license, Kmart?” That cop certainly got an earful when he cut in front of them. You get what you get when you live with an octogenarian on Houseboat Row in Key West, a place that was rather like Cannery Row at times. Things were hopping on the I-wanna-be-an-entertainer scene down in Mallory Square with less than stellar acts vying for a few tourist dollars.
Haley was going to do a review on Edwin Mastin’s floating restaurant, “For Goodness Sake.” The “Sake” was a take on the Japanese drink and she was hoping the meal would live up to her expectations. Aside from a bit of disgruntled huff about the lack of regulations from other restaurant owners, a.k.a. landlubbers, the only gossip in town was about the “cemetery burglar.” There had been a rash of burglaries near the Key West cemetery, something that threatened to put a damper on the upcoming Sunset Celebration. Money was money and no one wanted to turn off the tourists. Like never ever, never.
The tourists would come in droves for the Sunset Celebration, bringing their bathing suits, floaties, and moolah. All was well until one little floatie showed up in the water near Palm Avenue. “Is it true,” a man shouted at a city government meeting, “that the victim was Bart Frontgate?” Indeed it was and Miss Gloria thought she’d spotted the corpse earlier. Things were certainly heating up in Key West and it wasn’t the temperature. Oddly enough Lorenzo hadn’t seen it in the cards and was some nervous about the whole deal. In fact, Lorenzo hoofed it on out of town, heading west on the Vomit Comet.
Lorenzo, a.k.a. Marvin Smith, had been sharing space with Bart at Sunset...and fighting with him. It was getting more complicated by the second and Haley was determined to find out who really stabbed Bart with a fork and threw him in the water. Lieutenant Torrence more or less told her Lorenzo-Marvin was as guilty as they come and not to interfere with the investigation. Haley was fine with that. Not. Things quickly got even more complicated when she just happened to spot some blond hair in a crypt at the cemetery. “Move away right now,” Detective Bransford shouted at her. Who, me? Was that “possible four-one-nine” corpse going to land Haley in the slammer?
I’ve only read one other in the “Key West Food Critic Mystery” series, but had no problem picking up where I left off. I do recall adoring Lorenzo and was flummoxed to find out that he was in more trouble than that flambéed grouper that landed on someone’s plate. I was not surprised to find out that Haley was still on the job, defying the KWPD. I love her zest, pun intended, and totally enjoy this spicy, tangy series. The humorous touches, like when Bransford dismiss her “woo-woo hunches,” are marvelously charming. Haley Snow is one sleuth I definitely need to put back on my list again!
Quill says: Fatal Reservations is one Key West recipe for murder that’s even better than a slice of key lime pie with a dollop of cream on top.