Key West Food Critic Mysteries

A Poisonous Palate

Book 14 coming August 6th

Key West food critic Hayley Snow is working on this week’s articles for Key Zest magazine when an intriguing email hits her inbox, titled Hemingway’s toxic love and an old story. Catherine Davitt tells Hayley that she has returned to the Keys to research a book, but she also wants to investigate the disappearance of an old friend back in the late 1970s. The two young women were part of a group of lost souls camping in the mangroves on Big Pine Key, until Catherine’s friend Veronica disappeared, and the Sheriff’s Office cleaned out the camp.

Ever-curious Hayley agrees to help her, and they travel up the islands to Big Pine Key to talk to some other islanders who were around in the 70s. After chatting with one woman who has nothing much to add, they stop at an old motel to visit a man who was on the outer edges of this commune. Instead of answers, they find him murdered. It’s hard not to imagine a connection. Then Catherine disappears, leaving Hayley and Miss Gloria to unravel two possible murders, one old and one new, and track down a murderer who might very well have them in his or her sights.

A fascinating mix of Hemingway lore, flashbacks to the 1970s, and appended recipes.
Kirkus Reviews
What an excellent read. I highly recommend this installment and the whole series.
Baroness’ Book Trove

A Clue in the Crumbs

Book 13

Gold Medal for Popular Fiction, 2023 Florida Book Awards
A USA Today Bestseller

Food critic Hayley Snow and her pal Miss Gloria are overjoyed to welcome Violet and Bettina Booth, aka the Scottish Scone Sisters, to Key West. The sisters will host The UK Bakes!—Key West Edition. But the same day they arrive, the bed-and-breakfast the sisters are staying in gets torched.

The contest begins the next morning featuring three local bakers. One is the inn owner’s wife, Rayna, who is not only the most talented chef of the group but now a person of interest in the fire. The next night, a dogwalker discovers a body near the bed-and-breakfast. The victim appears to be Rayna’s husband, and the murder weapon points directly to the Scottish Scone Sisters.

But the show must go on. In between filming sessions, the three elderly ladies and Hayley must search for clues to the brutal murder in order to find out who wants to force them out of the kitchen. But as they draw closer to the answer, the threats from a murderer grow closer too. Are they now in danger of getting baked off?

Food lore, island delights, and mystery provide something for everyone.
Kirkus Reviews

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.
—Cathy Salustri, The Gabber

Key West on Saint Patrick’s Day meets the Scottish Scene Sisters who are visiting to tape a baking show. All your favorite characters are there in this lively and delicious cozy with an exceptionally knotty plot.
—Sue Em D, NetGalley reviewer

A Dish to Die for

Book 12

Bronze Medal for Popular Fiction, 2022 Florida Book Awards

Peace and quiet are hard to find in bustling Key West, but Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, is taking the afternoon off for a tranquil lunch with a friend outside of town. When she comes home, she discovers her husband Nathan’s dog, Ziggy, has disappeared. She follows his barking, to find him furiously digging at a shallow grave with a man’s body in it. Davis Jager, a local birdwatcher, identifies him as GG Garcia, a rabble-rousing Key West local and developer. Garcia was famous for over-development on the fragile Keys, womanizing, and refusing to follow city rules—so it’s no wonder he had a few enemies.

When Davis is attacked in the parking lot of a local restaurant after talking to Hayley and her dear friend, the octogenarian Miss Gloria, Hayley is slowly but surely drawn into the case. Hayley’s mother, Janet, has been hired to cater GG’s memorial service reception at the local women’s club, using recipes from their vintage Key West cookbook—and Hayley and Miss Gloria sign on to work with her, hoping to cook up some clues by observing the mourners.

But the real clues come when Hayley begins to study the old cookbook, as whispers of old secrets come to life, dragging the past into the present—with murderous results.

Culinary cozy fans are in for a treat.
Publishers Weekly

Key West food critic Hayley Snow proves once again that she understands crime as well as cuisine. A suitably steamy background for a complex tale of murder and deceit.
Kirkus Reviews

Once again, Lucy Burdette captures the heart and soul of Key West and leaves the reader hungry for more visits. Bravo!
Fresh Fiction
A satisfying entry in Burdette’s highly entertaining cozy series.
Shelf Awareness
Burdette takes the time to develop each character and this makes the book feel like you are right at home in a small town.
Seattle Book Review

Take a chance, enjoy another great Key West Food Critic cozy mystery withA Dish to Die For—and then go for not an edge of your seat suspense, but a narrow escape from the edge of the dock spine chiller in her UNSAFE HAVEN crime thriller. It’s a leap you will love.
—Kym at Fresh Fiction

What’s so delightful about the Key West Food Critic mysteries? The setting. The characters. The food. And, of course, the writing.
—Cathy Salustri, the Gabber (read more)

A Scone of Contention

Book 11

Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow and her groom, police detective Nathan Bransford, chose Scotland for their long-delayed honeymoon, hoping to sightsee and enjoy prize-winning scones. But their romantic duo swells to a crowd when they’re joined by Nathan’s family as well as octogenarian Miss Gloria.

Nathan’s sister Vera takes the women on a whirlwind tour of some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places as research for a looming book project. But the trip takes a deadly tartan turn when a dinner party guest falls ill and claims she was poisoned. And then the group watches in horror as a mysterious tourist tumbles to his death from the famous Falkirk Wheel, high above the Forth & Clyde canal.

Vera and her friends deny knowing the dead man, but after observing their reactions to the fall, Hayley is not convinced. With one person dead, a second possibly poisoned, and the tension among Vera’s friends as thick as farmhouse cheese, Hayley fears her long-awaited honeymoon might end with another murder.

Far away from home, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, eccentric characters, and a forbiddingly gorgeous setting, Hayley must call on all her savvy to keep a killer from striking again and then escaping Scot free.

A scone-by-scone tour of glorious Scotland. Foodies and Outlander fans will rejoice in the references to both in this not-so-mysterious paean to Scotland.
Kirkus Reviews
A Scone of Contention moves at a brisk pace complemented by appealing characters.
—Oline Cogdill, Sun Sentinel

Hayley Snow is one of my favorite amateur sleuths.
—Jenn McKinlay, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

I love this series! [Lucy Burdette has] revitalized my love of cozy mysteries.
—Laurell K. Hamilton, New York Times bestselling author

The Key Lime Crime

Book 10

Bronze Medal for Popular Fiction, Florida Book Awards

With her intimidating new mother-in-law bearing down on the island and a fierce rivalry between Key lime pie bakers to referee, food critic Hayley Snow is feeling anything but festive…

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s and Key West is bursting at the seams with holiday events and hordes of tourists. Adding to the chaos, Key lime pie aficionado David Sloan has persuaded the city to host his Key Lime pie extravaganza and contest. Hayley Snow can’t escape the madness because her bosses at Key Zest magazine have assigned her to cover the event. Every pie purveyor in Key West is determined to claim the Key lime spotlight—and win the coveted Key Lime Key to the City.

Another recipe for disaster—Hayley’s hubby, police detective Nathan Bransford, announces that his mother will be making a surprise visit. Newlywed Hayley must play the dutiful daughter-in-law, so she and her pal Miss Gloria offer to escort his mom on the iconic Conch Train Tour of the island’s holiday lights. But it’s not all glittering palm trees and fantastic flamingos—the unlikely trio finds a real body stashed in one of the elaborate displays. And the victim is no stranger: Hayley recognizes the controversial new pastry chef from Au Citron Vert, a frontrunner in Sloan’s contest.

Hayley must not only decipher who’s removed the chef from the contest kitchen, she’s also got to handle a too-curious mother-in-law who seems to be cooking up trouble of her own.

The well-described Key West setting nicely complements the foodie frame in this satisfying cozy, which is a natural for fans of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen mysteries.
Charming characters, an appealing setting, and mouthwatering bonus recipes make this a perfect choice for foodie cozy lovers.
Publishers Weekly

A Deadly Feast

Book 9

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancé, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.

The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.

As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

Hayley and Nathan make an appealing pair, and the food descriptions and Key West atmosphere are equally enticing—a sure bet to draw readers of foodie mysteries.
A delectable addition to a satisfying, well-plotted mystery series.
Suspense Magazine

Death on the Menu

Book 8

Hayley Snow, fiery food critic for Key Zest magazine, has just landed a ticket to one of the most prestigious events in Key West: a high-brow three-day conference at the Harry Truman Little White House. Even though she’ll be working the event helping her mother’s fledgling catering business, there’s plenty of spicy gossip to go around. But just before her mother’s decadent flan is put to the test, Key West’s most prized possession, Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal for The Old Man and the Sea, is discovered stolen from its case.

Unsavory suspicions point to Gabriel, a family friend and one of the new busboys working the event, who mysteriously goes missing moments later. Anxious to clear his name, Gabriel’s family enlists Hayley to help find him. Right as they begin their search, his body is found stabbed to death in the storeroom.

Hayley has no shortage of suspects to interrogate and very little time before the killer adds another victim to the menu in national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s delectable eighth Key West Food Critic mystery, Death on the Menu.

Burdette’s loving descriptions of food and the appended recipes are an added fillip for readers who enjoy some history and romance with their mysteries.
Kirkus Reviews

Fascinating details about the Truman Little White House, Cuban American history and relations, Cuban food, and Hemingway’s years in Key West are woven through this atmospheric cozy.

…the author transports her readers to Key West with every page, describing real landmarks and restaurants with such realism that I feel I’m actually there. Magical and delicious fun!
Suspense Magazine

Killer Takeout

Book 7

It’s Fantasy Fest at Key West, and food critic Hayley Snow is ready to celebrate. But a killer seems intent on crashing the party in this mystery from the national bestselling author of Death with All the Trimmings.

Every year, Key West’s week long Mardi Gras–style festival has tourists and locals alike lining up for costumed revelry and delicious eats. Key Zest magazine has assigned Hayley to write a piece on the fest’s grab-and-go food, so she’s planning on hitting up the mobile eateries while checking out the party preparations.

Hayley’s office mate, Danielle, recently elected Queen of Fantasy Fest, is also buzzing between festivities and fundraisers. But when a former royal rival gets taken out, Hayley needs to put down her party hat and her pen and figure out who served up a side of murder—before Danielle gets crowned a killer…

A satisfying cozy that combines a well-drawn setting with appealing characters.
The Connecticut Post
The story is fast paced, filled with immensely like-able and quirky characters… The setting, the cats, and the guilt-free pleasure of reading about amazing food make this one of my favorite mystery series.
The Conscious Cat

Fatal Reservations

Book 6

Hayley Snow looks forward to reviewing For Goodness Sake, a new floating restaurant that promises a fresh take on Japanese delicacies like flambéed grouper with locally sourced seaweed. But nearby land-based restaurateurs would rather see their buoyant competition sink.

Sent to a City Commission meeting to cover the controversy, Hayley witnesses another uproar. The quirky performers of the daily Sunset Celebration are struggling to hold onto their performance space. The fight for Mallory Square has renewed old rivalries between Hayley’s Tarot-card reading friend Lorenzo and a flaming-fork-juggling nemesis, Bart Frontgate—but things take a deadly turn when Bart is found murdered.

If Lorenzo could read his own cards, he might draw The Hanged Man. He can only hope that Hayley draws Justice as she tries to clear him of murder…

Complete with a clever plot, a cast of familiar and amiable characters, a buffet of food and all the wackiness of Key West, Fatal Reservations displays Burdette at peak form and whets the appetite for Hayley’s next case.
—Jay Stafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch

… Ms. Burdette has built a silken web to catch fans of food, food journalism, Key West, and… oh yeah, murder mysteries. The particular coupling of foodies and mystery fans has caught on… Lucy Burdette, for this reviewer, tops the field.
—Phil Jason, Florida Weekly

Burdette is clearly on a roll here—like her most recent two books in the series, Fatal Reservations is tightly plotted, quick-paced, and full of unforgettable characters, dead and alive.
—Beth Kanell, Kingdom Books
Lucy Burdette’s Hayley Snow series features a wonderful cast of characters, not the least of which is quirky Key West itself.
—Faye Dason, The Pilot

Death with All the Trimmings

Book 5

The only snow in Key West this Christmas is Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, who is not getting time off for the holiday…or time off from murder.

It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant biz. Hayley has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Is someone out to destroy the chef’s business—or actually kill her? Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer who may turn up the heat on her next…

Burdette infuses the mystery with Key West spirit and holiday fun along with delicious food references and recipes. This strong series continues a unique blend of island mayhem and sparkling characters surrounding a layered mystery. Fans of Julie Hyzy and Laura Childs may also enjoy.
A contemporary comedy of manners sprinkled with gastronomical glitter, delectable danger and good will, Death with All the Trimmings is delightful.
Florida Weekly
Burdette successfully blends murder with menus, furthers Hayley’s development and paints a loving portrait of Key West’s wackiness, including the town’s annual Dachshund Parade and the appearance of a Chihuahua flash mob. Her mix of food, felonies and fun is a tasty seasonal treat.
The Richmond Times Dispatch

Murder with Ganache

Book 4

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 Rory. 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.

Our intrepid heroine juggles work, family and sleuthing in a successful effort to solve the case, and Burdette again offers a four-star plot and rich local color, all the while inspiring dreams of Duval Street despite the bleak midwinter of real life in the less temperate climes of the U.S.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
In this compelling mystery Burdette successfully balances the serious topics of homeless youth and divided families with bad tourist cuisine, excellent cooking, and a mother’s quest to find true love for her daughter…. Not to mention an appreciation of excellent food.
Kings River Life
But Hayley Snow is beyond easy to root for. In Murder with Ganache, Burdette once again shows that she’s as skillful at spinning a yarn as her protagonist is at baking pastries. And unmasking killers.
—Florida Book Review
The author’s background as a clinical psychologist clearly enriches her handling of this material. The constant charms in the Key West Food Critic Mystery books are, as one might expect, the attention to Key West and the attention to food — as nourishment, delight, art, business and social lubricant.
Florida Weekly

Topped Chef

Book 3

Hayley Snow loves her job as the food critic for Key Zest magazine, tasting the offerings from Key West’s most innovative restaurants. She’d rate her life four stars, until she’s forced into the spotlight…and another murder investigation.

Hoping for some good publicity, Hayley’s boss signs her up to help judge the Key West Topped Chef contest. Stakes are high as the winner could be the next cooking-show superstar. Hayley shows up for the filming nervous but excited, until she sees who’s on the judging panel with her: Sam Rizzoli, big shot businessman—and owner of the restaurant she just panned in her first negative review.

When Rizzoli turns up dead, the police assume his killer is one of his business rivals. But Hayley wonders whether someone is taking the contest a little too seriously. With the police following the wrong recipe, it’s up to Hayley to find the killer before she’s eliminated from the show…permanently.

Burdette fills “Topped Chef” with a fine plot, a delightful heroine, a wealth of food—and all the charm and craziness of Key West. You’ll wish you could read it while sipping a mojito on the porch of a conch cottage in mainland America’s southernmost community.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Sweet and savory, “Topped Chef” captures Key West’s sensory enchantment, and Ms. Burdette’s bubbly protagonist is once again the main ingredient in a sure-fire recipe.
Florida Weekly

Hayley’s sense of humor…returns with a hearty guffaw in Topped Chef… three courses of cozy—romance, humor, and mystery—that will leave you satisfied, yet looking forward to another serving.
—Florida Book Review

The descriptions of the coastal cuisine, snappish and temperamental cheftestants, and drag queens, all combine to make this a very well-written and tasty mystery, sure to please fans of food, reality shows, and mysteries.
Kings River Life

Death in Four Courses

Book 2

The annual Key West Loves Literature seminar is drawing the biggest names in food writing from all over the country, and Haley Snow is there to catch a few fresh morsels of insider gossip. Superstar restaurant critic Jonah Barrows has already ruffled a few foodie feathers with his recent tell-all memoir, and as keynote speaker, he promises more of the same jaw-dropping honesty.

But when Hayley discovers Jonah’s body in a nearby dipping pool, the cocktail hour buzz takes a sour turn, and Hayley finds herself at the center of attention–especially with the police. Now it’s up to her to catch the killer before she comes to her own bitter finish.

Anyone who’s ever overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy.
Publishers Weekly

The novel, done in the style of the Joanne Fluke series, is sure to attract food-fiction fans and will also appeal to Key West readers, although the combination of the two here is unique.

In a crowded cozy market, Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic series stands out among its peers.
Florida Book Review

I’ll say it unashamedly: Death in Four Courses is mouthwatering. Hayley Snow is delicious. This humor- seasoned food for thought will tickle your mental taste buds.
Florida Weekly

An Appetite for Murder

Book 1

Hayley Snow’s life always revolved around food. But when she applies to be a food critic for a Key West style magazine, she discovers that her new boss would be Kristen Faulkner-the woman Hayley caught in bed with her boyfriend! Hayley thinks things are as bad as they can get-until the police pull her in as a suspect in Kristen’s murder. Kristen was killed by a poisoned key lime pie. Now Hayley must find out who used meringue to murder before she takes all the blame.

Burdette’s sense of place and her ability to empathize with a wide strata of Key West locals and visitors bodes well for this new series.
The Connecticut Post

What fun! ….Key West and food—a winning combination. I can’t wait for the next entry in this charming series.
—Diane Mott Davidson, New York Times bestselling author

An excellent sense of place and the occasional humorous outburst… There is a solid mystery within its pages… Not only does Burdette capture the physical and pastoral essence of Key West, she celebrates the food…
Florida Book Review