Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Author Lucy Burdette Answers Questions About Key West Food Critic Series


Meet Lucy Burdette, the author of the Key West food critic mystery series. The newest edition, The Key Lime Crime, was released on Tuesday, August 11, 2020.


Lucy is actually clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib. Along with her Florida-based series, she has published the golf lover’s mystery series and the advice column mysteries. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and a past-president of Sisters in Crime.


As a huge fan of the series, I had some questions for her about its creation and the new book. Here are the answers she sent via email:


Q: What is it you love most about Key West?

LB: I love so many things about Key West, from the weather in winter time to the arts and book scene, to the quirky people who live there, to the wonderful variety of restaurants.


Q: What inspired you to create the character of Hayley Snow?

LB: When I was between contracts, I heard about a publisher looking for a new series featuring a food critic. I thought, I love to eat, I can do that! My husband and I were just in the process of setting up winter residence in Key West and I realized that this would make a perfect setting. Then I tried to imagine a character who would have an outsider view of the island and lots of conflict about staying there. Not that she was conflicted about staying there but it’s expensive and not so easy to get a job and these would be things she would face. Hence, Hayley Snow was born!


Q: You put real-life people in your books. Why?

LB: I think the first real person I put in the book was police officer Steve Torrence. He has become a good friend and is very generous with giving me advice about police procedure, so this was a kind of thank you. Since then, Key West characters in real life have become irresistible! Hayley's friend and tarot card reader Lorenzo is a real person, who reads cards for people at the Mallory Square sunset celebration. (His real name is Ron and now he advises me!) Some people have bought names or names of pets in charity auctions and that is always fun. In the new book, the orange tiger kitten T-bone is a real cat, whom I adopted from the FKSPCA.


Q: Do you create all the recipes in the books?

LB: Unless otherwise noted, the recipes are mine. Of course I read about the dishes I want to make, and like to try to copy dishes from the restaurants we enjoy. But they are my own versions.


Q: How do you feel about key lime pie? Do you have a favorite?

LB: I think that we tasted at least 10 different pies while I was writing this book. My favorite version has a graham cracker crust, no food coloring in the filling, and whipped cream on top. However I will try any Key lime pie presented to me! My husband told me at the end of this adventure that he really doesn’t like Key lime pie that much. And that shows you what a good sport he is.


Q: What are your top 5 not-to-miss Key West spots people should visit?

LB: Some of my favorite places are the Harry Truman Little White House, the Hemingway home with polydactyl cats, the custom house museum, Mallory Square at sunset, and a conch train tour around the island, especially for new visitors.


Q: How do you divide your year between Florida and Connecticut? How are the atmospheres between the two places different?

LB: We are Key West residents, and we often are there from October to May. After that it gets too hot and humid and I dread the hurricane season! We are happy to spend the remaining time in Connecticut to visit old friends and family. I miss each place while I’m away.


Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

LB: I was a clinical psychologist in my previous career and I hope that comes through in the characters I bring to life. It’s hard not to nudge these people to get into therapy when I know it would help! LOL


You can learn more about Lucy and her books at her website here.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Burdette Mystery Series Celebrates Food and Key West—The Perfect Combo


Is it possible to fall in love with a place in just a few hours?




That’s exactly what happened when I visited Key West while on a Carnival cruise in 2016. After shopping on Duval Street, exploring Hemmingway’s home, photographing the chickens that roam the streets, and devouring a slice of key lime pie, as well as numerous pieces of key lime fudge, I was in love with this town on the southernmost point of the continental United States.


When I returned home, I immediately started to read Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic cozy mystery series. I was hooked, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the main character, Hayley Snow, is a food writer. She also lives on a houseboat, which she shares with a feisty-but-loving elderly woman. I zoomed through all of the editions already in print and then waited for each new edition with great anticipation and little patience.


Announcement! The newest book, The Key Lime Crime, will be released on Tuesday, August 11, 2020!


This is the 10th book in the series, and lucky me got an advance copy.


I enjoyed every page!

Set during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when Key West, Florida explodes with tourists, Hayley is covering a key lime pie baking contest. Plus, her new mother-in-law comes for a visit—the same woman who didn’t come to the wedding a few weeks earlier. When Hayley, her elderly (and sassy) roommate, and mother-in-law discover the body of controversial new pastry chef from the contest, the trio sets out to find the murderer, which doesn’t make new husband and detective, Nathan, very happy.

One of the aspects of Burdette’s series I adore is her ability to describe Key West so clearly. It’s easy to feel like you’re right in the midst of the quirky town. She also includes real locations, restaurants, and people in her stories. With most of us feeling cooped up because of the coronavirus pandemic, reading this series is like taking a mini-vacation. In fact, I have a list of places from her books I plan to explore when I return for a longer visit.

Besides being an enjoyable read, the book also has recipes for many of the dishes mentioned in the story—thank goodness! So far, I’ve tested out the Chai Snickerdoodles, and they were tasty. The only change I would make would be to add a little vanilla to the cookie dough, which I’ll try out the next time. And yes, there will be a next time!


Since key lime is in the title, there are numerous references to the various pie styles found on the island, including this one from Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe I posted about after my visit. The book includes key lime martini and key lime parfait recipes, both of which are on my gotta-try list.


If you’re a fan of mysteries, food, unique characters, or tropical settings, then you need to read the Key West Food Critic series.


STAY TUNED! On Thursday, August 13, I’ll post a Q&A interview I did with Lucy Burdette about this series and the new book! Plus, over the next few weeks, I will post recipes not only from her books but from a couple of cookbooks I bought on my visit.