Topped ChefTopped Chef by Lucy Burdette is the third book in the “Key West Food Critic” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, May 2013

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.

I just love Hayley Snow as she tries to do the right thing and she can’t help it if she’s good at uncovering clues which the authorities miss. In her latest adventure, Hayley is a judge on a cooking reality show and it should be easy, but of course it’s not when one of the judges is killed and another targeted. It is so much fun following Hayley as she goes from being a judge, to an amateur sleuth (although I think she should get her PI license) and being good friends to Miss Gloria, and Connie. It is always a welcome joy when we hear from her mom who I think is a hoot. Lucy has done a good job in keeping me in suspense with plenty of suspects who could have been the killer. Boasting a great cast of characters, a terrific location and entertaining dialogue, Lucy has created a wonderful and well-written whodunit and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Key West.

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