Okay, for starters, it's a nice bonus to read a mystery that also includes recipes inspired by the location and mentioned throughout the story. There are several that I hope to try at some point -- most don't seem to be too complicated to make and it would be fun to get a feel of some of the local flavor of Hawaii. Interestingly enough, this is the second mystery I have read recently that is set in Hawaii, and it is proving to be a fun way to learn even a small bit about their culture. But going back to the recipes, I also discovered that there is an index of all the recipes located in the front of the book, which is a fantastic feature!When reading this story, it is obvious that I must have missed a lot of Sadie's background by not having read the other books. However, this book can certainly be read as a stand-alone and on its own merit. So, while I would probably recommend starting at the beginning, don't feel like you have to just because I told you to! Okay, that said, I also feel like I have missed out on a TON of Sadie's character development. Rumor has it, the vulnerable Sadie we see in Banana Split is quite different from the Sadie that people got to know in the first six books. However, we do get to see her work on overcoming the vulnerability she feels, and even by the end of the book she is a different woman from the Sadie I met on the first page.The mystery itself evolves quite a bit as the story unfolds. We are introduced to several suspicious characters, which always sparks me to contemplate who had the most motive to commit the murder. I have to admit that as I got into the thick of the plot, the storyline slowed down a little for me, but Kilpack is able to keep the twists and turns coming and pulls you right on to the end as the pace quickens again for the last several chapters. An added bonus in my mind is that this is a nice, clean book -- sure, the murder is a little gruesome, but that is mainly left to your imagination and after all, it IS a murder mystery.If I have intrigued you so far, you really ought to pick up a copy of Banana Split (or one of Kilpack's other Culinary Mysteries) and see what it's all about!