Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Hayley Snow, the food critic for Key Zest magazine, has her plate heaped high with restaurant reviews, doughnut and sticky bun tastings, and an article on the Hemingway cats. But this week she’s also in charge of her best friend’s wedding. And then someone adds a side of murder…
For better or worse, Hayley has agreed to bake over 200 cupcakes for her friend Connie’s wedding while still meeting her writing deadlines. The last thing she needs is family drama. But her parents come barreling down on the island like a category 3 hurricane and on their first night in town her stepbrother, Roby, disappears into the spring break party scene in Key West.
When Hayley hears that two teenagers have stolen a jet ski, she sets aside her oven mitts and goes in search of Roby. She finds him, barely conscious, but his female companion isn’t so lucky. Now Hayley has to let the cupcakes cool and assemble the sprinkles of clues to clear her stepbrother’s name—before someone else gets iced.
Haley has a lot of work to do before her best friend Connie gets married at the end of the week…hundreds of cupcakes to bake for the wedding, food articles to write and restaurants to critique for her job, and entertaining her blended family. Her parents, mother’s new boyfriend, step-mother, and sullen teenage step-brother descend on Key West for the week. She hasn’t been around her step-brother, Roby, much in recent years, and he really has become the poster child for the “I don’t want anything to do with my family” teen. He begs off the wedding shower, but then he misses his curfew and still does not show up by morning. The family eventually finds him, unconscious but alive. The girl he was seen with before he went missing was not so lucky; she is found floating. The police suspect Roby, and Haley sets out to clear his name.
I had a hard time getting into this installment of this cozy foodie series. The death does not occur until page 130 or so, and there was no real set up to that point about the victim. So, what happens instead of a real mystery for the first third of the book, you ask? Haley becomes more and more stressed out and her family becomes more and more annoying. Dad is too pompous, Allison is too passive, and Mom is too flighty. Haley is supposed to be a good food critic, but she lost credibility with me when she got takeout to review as her first experience with a restaurant. I do not think I would give much weight to her opinion based on that. When Connie calls off the wedding without giving a reason, I would expect Haley, as her best friend, to find out why right away and be around to be supportive. That did not happen. Most of the book reads like a guide book for Key West, and I know many people enjoy the series for this very reason, but I have decided Key West is not a place I would like to live. Haley’s friend Eric is missing for most of the book, and I missed him. I hope he is featured more prominently next time.
Not guessing whodunit early in the book is what bumps this up from two stars to three. This installment in not the best of the series, but I hope to enjoy the next outing more. I recommended this book for lovers of Key West and the series.