All Sadie wants is a piece of really good Key Lime Pie.  She’s still smarting from good intentions gone awry in Devils Food Cake and her sentence to community service.  Her friend Eric Burton received the same sentence and he seems much more sympathetic than Sadie’s police detective friend, Pete Cunningham.  Her relationship with Pete seems to be going nowhere and Eric is looking better all the time.  So begins Josie S. Kilpack’s new culinary mystery, Volume Four in her Sadie Hoffmiller series.

Sadie and Pete break up, though Sadie finds not having Pete in her life harder than she expected.  When Eric gets a call informing him a body has been found in Florida that might be his daughter who has been missing for three years, he packs and rushes to the airport.  He invites Sadie to accompany him and she’s tempted, but she’s determined to prove she isn’t a busybody and can stay home and mind her own business.  But when Pete calls asking her to go to his house to collect a box he needs sent to him, she can’t resist peeking in the box, then carrying it to him personally.

When Sadie reaches Miami, she discovers the address Eric gave her is his ex-wife’s home and the ex-wife is living in a house paid for by another former husband who also happens to be Eric’s best friend. Complicating the situation, the ex-wife behaves strangely and seems more like a child than a grown woman. From here on the story takes on a number of puzzling twists as Sadie discovers villains aren’t always what they seem and neither are the good guys as she searches for Eric’s daughter and attempts to unravel her disappearance and identify the body found by the police.  And speaking of police, Sadie manages to get in all kinds of trouble with the local authorities.  If that isn’t bad enough, she can’t seem to find any decent Southern cooking, and she’s still hankering for Key Lime Pie.

I liked Sadie better in the three books prior to Key Lime Pie where she was an unabashed, obnoxious, snoopy busybody.  It seemed a little out of character for her to be so introspective and concerned about her snooping in this volume.  Although her true character came out as she ignored her inner resolve and stuck her nose in everyone else’s business anyway.  I was also a little disappointed to discover more emphasis in this volume on Sadie’s love life than the mystery.

As usual, Kilpack’s characters are interesting, each a distinct individual, with both strong points and flaws.  After a slow start, the story moves smoothly and the mystery is fun.  The romance is handled very well as Kilpack leads the reader subtly to draw the same conclusions about the men in Sadie’s life as does Sadie. The conclusion is not as strong as I expected from this accomplished, award winning author, but nevertheless, satisfying.  Culinary mystery fans will love the abundance of recipes (which have all been tested multiple times).  I still like Devil’s Food Cake the best, but recommend Key Lime Pie to the legions of romantic suspense and mystery readers.

KAY LIME PIE by Josi S. Kilpack, published by Deseret Book, softcover, 348 pages, $17.99