Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
In Las Vegas, the stakes are high—and so is the Scoville scale. Maxie Pierce and the Chili Showdown are in town for a very heated contest devoted to judging the legendary and notorious-for-being-self-combustible Devil’s Breath chili. The guest judges are casino performers with a taste for chili and an eye for publicity.
Maxie is already going mad organizing the event, dealing with her snide half sister, Sylvia, and trying to figure out her hothead of security, Nick. But when a local hack comedian drops dead in the middle of the Showdown, it isn’t the spicy dish—it’s poison. And Maxie is going to have to shuffle through a full deck of suspects to pick out the culprit. (Goodreads)
The Chili Showdown, a group of vendors who travel together to showcase their wares and conduct chili cook offs, have come to Vegas for a Devil’s Breath Chili competition. Maxie and Sylvia’s father spearheads the Showdown, but is missing, so Maxie is front and center the morning of the contest. The contestants include a professional chili man, a monk, a woman with ties to Jack, and another man who seems too good to be true. The judges are employees of the hosting casino, regular performers including a singer, pianist, magician, and comedian. Also included is a former employee who is now the owner of a successful local wedding chapel. Partway through the competition, Dickie, the comedian, drops right into his bowl of red, apparently poisoned. His comedic style was pretty harsh, and the other judges all have reason to want him dead. Dickie knew secrets about them all and was blackmailing them to ensure his silence. Could any of them have killed him, or is it one of the contestants, or someone else entirely? Maxie takes it upon herself to investigate because she does not want anything to taint the Showdown’s reputation. Meanwhile, she deals with someone sabotaging her – itching powder in her chili costume, Vaseline on the soles of her shoes, profanity painted on the costume, and, most dangerous of all, a neon sign that conveniently falls and narrowly misses Maxie. Is the killer out to stop her or is this some kind of revenge for her past antics?
I have not read the first book in this series but thought I would enjoy this since I read a lot of culinary mysteries and really like Logan’s League of Literary Ladies series. Alas, I did not find the characters likable, and that is a bit of disappointment. Some readers may find Maxie spunky or sassy, but I found her to be lazy, snarky, and full of too much drama. Her sister – no, we must always refer to her as half-sister – Sylvia was bratty and her behavior juvenile. I can understand their animosity towards each other since they are results of their father’s infidelity, but I found their constant antics taxing. And, if their father, Jack, has been missing for a couple of months, why are they not more concerned and actively looking for him? What makes him so appealing that an old flame, Bernadette, would carry a torch for him many years after their affair ended and maliciously inflict bodily harm to Maxie? The whole dynamics of this left me scratching my head. I would, however, like to know more about Nick and the other supporting characters that travel the Showdown circuit. The suspect characters were relatively well drawn, and the motivation behind the crime somewhat unusual.
I would recommend this cozy for fans of the genre, especially culinary, and those who don’t mind character friction and a big dose of drama.