A health inspector finds murder in an over-the-top concept restaurant.
Who says vegetarians don’t really like food? Texas vegan Poppy Markham has built her life around edibles. As the daughter of Mitch Markham, owner of Markham’s Grille & Cocktails, she earned her chops as head chef. But after a fellow employee set her bedroom on fire (If You Can’t Stand the Heat, 2011), Poppy traded her toque for a job with the food police, issuing permits for the myriad eateries dotting Austin’s culinary scene. The very latest food venture, she discovers, is being built by two of Poppy’s high school classmates, ex-football stars Troy and Todd Sharpe. The jocks have a bizarre twist: offer guests a choice of the last meals enjoyed by a variety of criminals shortly before their executions. But their grisly plan takes an even more grisly turn when Poppy checks out their three-part sink and finds Troy dangling from the second-floor catwalk. Investigating Troy’s death is just the break Poppy needs from trying to patch things up with food critic Jamie Sherwood, who sent their relationship into a nose dive by sleeping with another woman. She also has to mull the return of her ex-fiance, Drew Cooper, who abruptly disappeared into the blue yonder years back, obliging her to fall in love with perfidious Jamie. Now that Mitch has hired Drew as general manager at Markham’s, where Poppy’s temperamental stepsister Ursula has her eyes all over him, the need to keep a delicate balance between two gorgeous but unreliable guys makes solving a murder look as easy to Poppy as inspecting a hot dog stand.
Murder is definitely at the back of the house in Poppy’s second case, with jousting between exes firmly planted in the front.