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Topped Chef: A Key West Food Critic Mystery Mass Market Paperback – May 7, 2013

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Topped Chef: A Key West Food Critic Mystery + Death in Four Courses: A Key West Food Critic Mystery + Murder With Ganache: A Key West Food Critic Mystery
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Product Details

  • Series: Key West Food Critic (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; 4.7.2013 edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451239709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451239709
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Key West, Food Critic series praise:

“What fun! Lucy Burdette writes evocatively about Key West and food—a winning combination. I can’t wait for the next entry in this charming series.”—New York Times bestselling author Diane Mott Davis
“Food, fun, and felonies. What more could a reader ask for?”—New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett
“For a true taste of paradise, don’t miss An Appetite for Murder. Lucy Burdette’s first Key West Food Critic mystery combines a lush, tropical setting, a mysterious murder, and plenty of quirky characters. The victim may not be coming back for seconds, but readers certainly will!”—Julie Hyzy, national bestselling author of the White House Chef mysteries and Manor House mysteries

“[A] yummy sequel to An Appetite for Murder...anyone who’s ever overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy.”—Publishers Weekly 

About the Author

Clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib, aka Lucy Burdette, has had ten previous mysteries published. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards.

More About the Author

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries--a cozy, culinary mystery series, which debuted with AN APPETITE FOR MURDER (January, 2012.) DEATH IN FOUR COURSES followed in September, 2012, TOPPED CHEF in May 2013, and MURDER WITH GANACHE in February 2014. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be on bookshelves December 2, 2014.

As Roberta Isleib, she's also written the golf lover's mystery series (SIX STROKES UNDER) and the advice column mysteries (DEADLY ADVICE.) Lucy (aka Roberta) is a clinical psychologist who loves using her background in her stories. She also loves to cook and to eat and to talk and write and read about food!

You can learn more about Lucy, Key West, and the food critic mysteries at her website, She also blogs with the wonderful crime fiction writers at Jungle Red Writers,, and shares recipes and stories with seven other cozy mystery writers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen,

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 51 customer reviews
Well written and interesting characters.
L. Rigod
If I lived in Key West, I would read Key Zest magazine and want to befriend Hayley Snow!
Nancy L. Otto
If you haven't read the previous two, buy those first.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Narma on May 7, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Red-sneakered Food Critic, Hayley Snow has done what she has dreaded since she was hired--write a bad review on a local restaurant. She had given the place three tries with mediocre to poor meals each time. She had to be honest, for "Key Zest Online Magazine's" sake as well as her own integrity. This added more stress to her already "full plate". She goes to scope out the "Key West Food and Wine Festival" for a future article but has the upcoming date with the off-times sarcastic, "I'm-to-sexy-for-my-badge" Detective Nate Bransford in the back of her mind, as well as her duties as "Maid of Honor"
in her best friend, Connie's wedding.
When her boss, Wally, hoping for some good publicity for the magazine as well as some "Inside Skinny", assigns Hayley to be a judge for the reality cooking show "Topped Chef", being filmed in Key West, she agrees, figuring it will be fun as well as help her career. Little does she know that one of the judges is the owner of the sub-standard restaurant she just reviewed! You'll enjoy the zany and sometimes pompous chefs vying for this thrust into culinary stardom as well as the varying personalities of the judges. Everything seems to be going along fairly smoothly until, in a bizarre twist of fate, one of the judges is murdered, followed by several strange coincidences. Would one of the chefs want the honor of "Topped Chef" that badly, that they would kill for it? Or is another judge at fault?
Or are the remaining judges in danger also? Will Hayley and Nate finally "find each other"? Will Connie and Ray have a "Pirate-themed" wedding? I enjoyed this book immensely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bluesdiva on June 11, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fun series. All the characters are likeable and real. Hayley is smart and unlike some protagonists in these kinds of books, she doesn't jump to wild conclusions and when she learns something the cops should know about, she actually TELLS them. Good for her.
You can tell the author knows and loves Key West. I felt like I was right there.
There was one thing that didn't make a lot of sense though.
Hayley is one of 3 judges for a cooking competition but the final winner is not decided by the judges but is decided by the volume of applause from the audience. What was the point of the judges?
The identity of the murderer was a surprise but the motive for the murder was a little lame.
But all in all, I loved it and can't wait for the next installment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jersey Sue on May 7, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Another winning entry in the Key West Food Critic series! Key Zest food critic Haley Snow is tapped to judge the contest/auditions for a reality TV cooking show. She's anticipating a fun outing that will boost her career, but she gets more than she bargains for when one of her fellow judges is murdered in a very bizarre way. This is such a fun read because the clues to the mystery are woven into great descriptions of food, cooking shows, reality TV and even the drag bar scene in Key West. The supporting cast of larger-than-life Key West characters are all here, adding more depth and fun to the story. In the end, Haley ingeniously escapes the villain and restores order to her little corner of Paradise. A great summer read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By carl brookins VINE VOICE on June 17, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Murder and felonious maneuverings behind the scenes of a cable TV cooking show, set on one of the more exotic Florida Islands, plus some tasty recipes, and what more could you want for a delightful summer read?

Lucy Burdette, the veteran crime novelist she is, has produced another tasty offering. Even the often tongue-in-cheek epigrams feed the fun. Haley Snow, budding restaurant critic has a job with a struggling Key West magazine called Key Zest. Reviewing restaurant meals is never an easy assignment and in Key West where local opinions on almost anything can run fast and hot, restaurant reports can be easy targets. Haley's boss signs her up to be a judge on a nascent reality TV cooking show. The program, called Topped Chef, has the potential to make the featured chef a wealthy star, so tension is high.

Then murder intervenes when one of the judges is found dead in rather bizarre circumstances. Reluctantly, although she is a bit of a nosy gossip, Haley probes the circumstances of the murder while still trying to maintain some semblance of neutrality as the judging progresses and the program is videotaped. Haley Snow is not cast in the mold of a Sam Spade, she doesn't own a gun and has to rely on her wits most times. She gets around town on a motor scooter. The novel is peopled with gender-shifting, cross-dressing, homeless and even some tourists of questionable attitudes. They all add to the fun and the pulsing rhythms of the tourist mecca that is Key West.

Consider the title of the novel which can be read in at least three ways, possibly more. The title is either a clue to the solution or a flaming red herring. Readers will have to decide. Then go on to consider the names of some of the characters, Turtle, Sam Rizzoli, Randy, Peter, and so on. The novel is clean, smoothly written, from the capable hands of an excellent writer. As an added bonus there are several tasty recipes in the back of the book. Well done, I say, well done.
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