Today Lucy Burdette is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Scone of Contention, 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.
A SCONE OF CONTENTION is the 11th book in the Key West food critic mystery series. Though the characters will be familiar, much of the action in A Scone of Contention takes place in Scotland rather than Key West. My husband and I and several dear friends and my sister took a trip to Scotland in 2019—many scenes happen in places we visited. Believe me it was a pleasure and a relief to be immersing myself in that magical place over the past nine months of the pandemic!
The series features food critic Hayley Snow, who lives on a houseboat in Key West. There are important recurring characters who’ve developed over the course of eleven books, including her next-door neighbor, octogenarian Miss Gloria, her tarot-card-reading pal Lorenzo, her detective husband Nathan Bransford. The setting is the real Key West with lots of local highlights and food featured. However, no one is ever poisoned in a real restaurant!
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I was trying to think of ways to keep the series fresh after ten books. And I had set up #10, THE KEY LIME CRIME, so that some of the characters could travel to Scotland, at least for part of the book. This will be Hayley and Nathan’s delayed honeymoon to visit Nathan’s sister. A few other favorite characters horned into the trip, which is based on a trip I took to Scotland with my husband in 2019.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
One subject that connects Key West to Scotland is the idea of “thin places.”
It’s always about family, and complicated family dynamics.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Food is, of course, central to this series. I try to make sure that food in my mysteries reveals something deeper about the characters who are eating or discussing it. (At the end I include recipes because it seems only fair to provide them after readers have salivated for pages and pages!) But I’ve noticed while reading books by amazing crime fiction writer Ann Cleeves that she uses food and eating to do exactly that—show character and deepen suspense. She is by no means a culinary mystery writer, but I so admire a line like this from Raven Black: “She tried to imagine Mr. Ross, sitting at their kitchen table while her mother hacked at the overcooked meat and picked away at him with her questions.” Doesn’t that make you think of murder?
Thanks for answering my questions, Lucy, and good luck with A Scone of Contention, the latest book in theKey West Food Critic Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Lucy is the author of 19 mysteries, including A Scone of Contention, the eleventh book in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. THE KEY LIME CRIME won the bronze medal for popular fiction in the Florida Book Awards. Lucy’s books and stories have also been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime, and currently serving as president of the Friends of the Key West Library.