Today Lucy Burdette is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Key Lime Crime, her latest novel in the Key West Food Critic mystery series.
Welcome, Lucy. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
THE KEY LIME CRIME is the tenth book in the Key West mystery series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Newlywed food critic Hayley is facing a super busy post holiday season, including a Key Lime pie judging contest and an overcommitted detective husband. When her husband’s mother makes an unannounced visit, Hayley must play the dutiful daughter-in-law. She and her pal Miss Gloria offer to escort his mom on the iconic Conch Train Tour of the island’s holiday lights. But it’s not all glittering palm trees and fantastic flamingos–the unlikely trio finds a real body stashed in one of the elaborate displays. Hayley’s new mother-in-law is intent on helping her get to the bottom of this.
When readers ask me if they need to read the books in order, I tell them that while the characters do grow and change over time, I try to write the mystery for each book so it stands alone.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
Key West is very enthusiastic about decorating for Christmas. And there is a trolley that takes people around the island to look at the lights. One year we noticed a house that had a Santa splayed out on the front porch holding an empty bottle of booze. A sign on the steps said, “Santa may be a little late this year.” I couldn’t help wondering who might be in that Santa suit, and why, and what if they were a murder victim? And my writer brain was off…
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
I always end up writing about families—extended families, biological families, stepfamilies, and in this case, in laws. I’d had some readers suggest that they couldn’t warm up to the main character’s new husband. I began to think about that—why he was so reserved, why his parents did not attend the wedding, and what it would be like if his mother made an unplanned visit.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
Many are based on people I know or composites of people I know. Miss Gloria, Hayley’s octogenarian houseboat-mate and great friend, is probably my favorite. Whenever I need a character to speak up on a subject or stand up for someone, Miss Gloria is there. She has a job giving tours at the Key West cemetery, plays mahjong with her “girlfriends” and drives an enormous old Buick Park Avenue that I borrowed from the car my in-laws drove for years. (My mother-in-law was also a spunky woman role model.) I always get a smile on my face writing about her.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I live in Key West half of the year, so I know it quite well. Since the main character is a food critic, many of restaurants in the series are real places (unless Hayley has a bad meal or there’s a case of murder by poison.) I also read the local newspapers and Facebook groups looking for quirky events and possible conflicts. All of that goes into the books as background.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I attended the Key West Citizens’ police academy a couple of years back and learned a lot about police procedure. I have a good friend who’s a retired cop, so he helps me with questions and problems. For THE KEY LIME CRIME, I took a pie-baking class with a couple of fans—such fun!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
I will tell you that I’m thrilled about the reviews so far. I’ll share two of them!
“Charming characters, an appealing setting, and mouthwatering bonus recipes make this a perfect choice for foodie cozy lovers.” Publishers’ Weekly
“The well-described Key West setting nicely complements the foodie frame in this satisfying cozy, which is a natural for fans of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen mysteries.”—Booklist
Thanks so much for having me visit your blog!
It was my pleasure, Lucy. Thanks for answering my questions and good luck with Key Lime Crime, the latest book in the Key West Food Critic Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Lucy is a clinical psychologist and has published 16 mysteries, including the latest in the Key West food critic series, DEATH ON THE MENU (Crooked Lane Books, August 2018.) Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. She blogs at Jungle Red Writersand shares her love for food with the culinary writers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen She lives in Madison CT and Key West FL.