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Book Review: Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette

Updated on December 21, 2014
Topped Chef is neither good nor bad in the third installment of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries
Topped Chef is neither good nor bad in the third installment of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries

Okay, so I know this is a fictional series, but I just couldn't wrap myself around this installment of the Key West Food Critic Mysteries. I think even for fiction the premise was a little too far fetched.

Hayley Snow has only been writing for Key Zest magazine for a couple of months and even though a cooking show has set up camp looking for the next great chef, the magazine sends her as a judge? Okay, it's good for publicity, but don't those reality shows look for "celebrities judges" who have a name?

So, judge Sam Rizzoli (a restaurateur on the island) is murdered on the night Hayley and Detective Nate Bransford are finally having a date. Nate calls to cancel while Hayley's waiting at the restaurant. After he cancels, she decides to take carry-out to him and finds out about the murder.

With Rizzoli dead, filming of the show isn't cancelled and during the week the three living judges have to deal with the contestants and their creations. Hayley also gets some bad news as Nate's ex-wife has come to town and the two have met.

The whole Hayley-Nate relationship doesn't happen since the two could never schedule a date. Since many of the crimozies have the cop/heroine tension, it was good to see that this couple probably wouldn't happen. Although I'm sure the two will get together in a future installment.

It's also interesting to note that Burdette has created a drag queen character. Since there has only been one other drag queen character in a previous author's book, I think Burdette may confuse the reader when writing about the character. I'm really not sure why when Hayley visits the character at the drag bar she changes the narrative from "he" to "she." Calling the character by the drag name would have been fine rather than the narrative.

The series itself is pretty good and it does pass the "third book curse" but barely. I say that only because I didn't buy the premise.

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