Goodreads ~ In Las Vegas, the stakes are high - and so is the Scoville scale. Maxie Pierce and the Chili Showdown are in town for a very heated contest devoted to judging the legendary and notorious-for-being-self-combustible Devil’s Breath chili. The guest judges are casino performers with a taste for chili and an eye for publicity.
Maxie is already going mad organizing the event, dealing with her snide half sister, Sylvia, and trying to figure out her hothead of security, Nick. But when a local hack comedian drops dead in the middle of the Showdown, it isn’t the spicy dish - it’s poison. And Maxie is going to have to shuffle through a full deck of suspects to pick out the culprit.
Maxie's father sold spices in a travelling chili cook-off circuit and disappeared eight weeks ago. Maxie and her half-sister, Sylvia, who she doesn't get along with (they have the same father), keep running the family business. Now the the Chili Showdown is in Las Vegas.
Minor Las Vegas entertainers (a blind singer, a comedian and a magician) along with a wedding officiant are judges in the Devil's Breath chili contest ... the entertainers want the publicity because whoever sells the most tickets to their upcoming shows will be in attendance a couple days later for a large group wedding. When the comedian is murdered during the contest, it could have been anyone who did it since no one liked him. Despite being told to stay out of it by Nick, the Showdown's head of security, she still keeps at it.
Though this is the second in the Chili Cook-Off Mystery Series by this author, it works as a stand alone as there is enough background provided (I'd read the first one). It is written in first person perspective in Maxie's voice. I liked Maxie well enough, though I found that she jumped to conclusions as to "whodunnit" without a lot of evidence and doesn't seem to have any filters ... she speaks without thinking (she doesn't seem very mature). Sylvia was too bitter and nasty and not likable at all. It's a "cozy mystery" so there is no swearing, violence or adult activity. I thought story and writing were okay and I liked it enough to read the next one in the series.