With each of Lucy Burdette’s Key West murder mystery books, I read whatever bodies her heroine, Hayley Snow, has found with rapt attention. Not only because I love the cozy mystery genre, but because Burdette writes with feeling about two things close to my heart: food and the Florida Keys.
The 13th in her Key West Food Critic Mystery series, A Clue in the Crumbs (Crooked Lane, August 2023), doesn’t disappoint. When I reviewed A Dish to Die For I wrote I couldn’t read one of her books without wanting to head to the Florida Keys. This has not changed.
Before tucking into Crumbs, I wondered what new ideas Burdette’s latest would have. After reading 12 others, I knew to expect at least one body and a lot of food. But how many new ways can an author concoct for the protagonist to find a dead body? I needn’t have worried – and neither should fans. This Key West murder mystery has twists, turns – and cake.
The Scottish Scone Sisters, introduced in A Scone of Contention, travel across the pond from Scotland to Key West. The reason? To host “The UK Bakes – Key West Edition.” Of course, things go awry. A fire, a dead body, and swapped ingredients all bake up into a tasty murder mystery.
True History in Crumbs
Key West setting aside, Burdette’s book has some great bits in it, starting on page 2, where Burdette slips in some stealth history:
“Our island was traumatized by a fire in 1886 that burned most of Old Town … the downtown consisted mostly of wooden structures, historically correct and colorful conch homes, set close together … The fire burned for 12 hours, killed seven people, and destroyed many notable buildings. In the department of horrifying coincidence, the only fire engine on the island had been sent away for repairs.”
Granted, most cozy fans don’t turn pages in search of history. Nevertheless, for Florida history buffs, this adds a nice touch.
Of course, the history takes a backseat to the murder – and the food. Before the reader realizes it, A Clue in the Crumbs launches into drama and intrigue, Key-West style. Old favorite characters return – Lorenzo, as always, deserves a larger role, and none of the books would be worth reading without plucky Miss Gloria. As for who killed the abusive husband? While you may find it tempting to think, as did I, the victim properly punished and his killer, a hero, no cozy worth its salt leaves a murder unsolved, and A Clue in the Crumbs makes no exception.
As with all truly delightful cozy mysteries, the pages turn too quickly, and all too soon, the murder gets solved ,and that’s all she wrote. At least, until next time.
Thankfully, Burdette writes a new book as reliably as Hayley finds dead bodies: Every year.