Release Date: May 7, 2019
Series: Key West Food Critic
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Hayley Snow is on overload with everything she has to do. She getting ready for a family Thanksgiving dinner, preparing for her wedding the day after the holiday, and finishing up a story for Key Zest magazine. Her latest assignment is covering a seafood tasting tour in her adopted hometown of Key West, Florida. One of the tourists participating collapses and dies on the last stop of the tour, which is a business run by one of Hayley’s friends. To help a friend, Hayley now adds an investigation into this untimely death to her already full to-do list.
This book is the ninth in the Key West Food Critic series. I’ve only read a couple of the earliest books in the series, but had no trouble catching up with the main characters. I love reading about the Key West restaurant scene which plays such a big part of this book and in the series as a whole. I am glad to see Hayley has matured since the beginning of the series and is easier to connect with. She is a likable main character who is smart, compassionate, and sometimes impulsive. I like that she has friends from all different backgrounds and generations. She is always willing to pitch in and help, but I admit that tendency becomes a little too much in this book. It was hard to accept someone who is getting married in less than a week and has no place to live after the wedding would keep agreeing to help anyone who asks. I wasn’t sure if I was more frustrated by Hayley continuing to take more and more tasks on or with her friends who kept asking her for favors.
There are a lot of side plots which come up as Haley works on her article about the restaurant tour and asks questions about the tourist’s death while gathering material for the magazine. The various subplots take away from the main story and at times, the book loses focus. Hayley does a lot for the investigation and is able to turn up some important clues, but there doesn’t seem to be much organization or a sense of urgency to her sleuthing. The solution is clever in some ways, but a bit of a let down in others, so I have mixed feelings.
Partially making up for the lack of intensity at the beginning of the book, the drama picks up during a case Hayley’s fiancé is working on that has unexpected connections to Hayley’s investigation. I like the way things turn out in the book, and readers who have been following the series from the beginning will especially enjoy the ending. As expected in a mystery where food plays such an important role, there are several recipes at the end of the book. It will be interesting to see what comes next in Hayley’s personal life and in her career.