Stars were spackled across the sky and I could hear the strains of country music from a houseboat a few slips away. The spooky termite-ridden boat in the next row that was covered with a red tarp labeled "Poison!" receded into the shadows. And darkness hid the cruiser two doors down that was so full of trash that passersby could no longer see in the windows. Along with Miss Gloria, many of the residents had threaded their rooflines with little white lights in anticipation of the holidays. From this perspective, it really did look like paradise.Synopsis: Hayley Snow, adrift in Key West after being dumped by her lawyer boyfriend, applies for the food critic job at his new girlfriend's magazine. Awkward. Then the new girlfriend eats a poisoned pie and the police come looking for Hayley.
This book was so confusing. It started off so strong: a plucky, down-at-the-heels freelance writer living on a houseboat in Key West, applying for a food critic job, hanging out with her best friend, eating interesting things, kooky family thing going. Then BAM! The murder happens, the writer's suspected of it...and...the whole book...just...slowed...right...down.
And then worse than that, it got mean and expected its readers to be stupid.
To be clear: Hayley Snow, when framed for murder, recognizes that she's screwing up her friendships by her investigations into the crime then keeps right on investigating. On top of that, the solution didn't track for me, and the missing cat and tarot reading subplots felt jammed in for...some sake that I never quite understood?
Then at the end there's the obligatory Investigating Officer Asks Out Suspect After Apologizing Profusely For Doing His Job, which was so stiff and painful that it felt like poor Detective Bransford was being herded toward Hayley with a cattle prod. And it made even less sense given that there'd been zero romantic tension between them the entire investigation and the author had made a point of noting that Hayley's neighbor thought the detective was attractive and she didn't. ...Buh?
The Key West setting is richly detailed and exotic, but I had to force myself to finish this one.