Posts Tagged ‘Key West’


Posted on September 9, 2016 - by

Character Assassination

 

Killer Takeout Cover SmallLUCY BURDETTE: You may well have read on Facebook that Penguin Random House is not renewing the Key West foodie mystery series. Though I’m sad about this, I’m not taking the news personally. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t think it has much to do with either the quality of the books or the sales. Lots of mass-market cozy folks are ending up in the refugee boat with me—it’s a mysterious corporate decision over which we have no control.
  1. It’s happened before and I’ve survived and thrived.
  1. I will most likely continue the series in another form in the future.
  1. The support and enthusiasm of readers has been a huge comfort!
  2. This is not official yet, but I am working on book #8 and hope you will see it in the summer 2018–yay!

But I thought it might be interesting to look back on my reaction to the news that the golf lovers’ mystery series was not getting renewed. (Hint: devastated.) I called this essay “Character Assassination.”

Losing a special friend hurts, even if you’re mourning a figment of your own imagination.

I’ve been getting to know my protagonist, professional golfer Cassie Burdette, since scratching out the opening paragraphs of my first mystery in January 1998. As with most fictional detectives, Cassie wrestled with skeletons in her closet: her father’s desertion, a melancholy, alcoholic mother, a fog of self-doubt. Ambivalence infused her relationships with men and she tended to defer soul-searching in favor of the anesthetic effects of Budweiser. Notwithstanding these conflicts, I imagined Cassie eventually thriving on the professional golf circuit through a combination of talent, spunk, and the right friends.

With five golf mysteries in print by March 2006, Cassie and I have spent the better part of eight years together. I finally talked her into starting psychotherapy (with the help of a couple of other characters) to address her low self-esteem and self-destructive tendencies. She began to play better golf, choose kinder men, drink less, and reconnect with her dad.

Meanwhile, researching Cassie’s world took me on some amazing adventures. I spent most of my first (modest) advance paying to compete in a real professional-amateur LPGA tournament so I could absorb the correct ambience for book two.

And I played golf at Pinehurst, Palm Springs, and in the Dominican Republic—all tax-deductible without stretching the IRS code. I met and corresponded with professional golfers, and many fans—mystery fans, golf fans, and best of all, fans of both. These people worried about Cassie: how can she drink that much before a tournament? How can she eat like that and stay in shape? Lose the boyfriend—he’s a bum! Over coffee, my friends were more likely to ask what was new with Cassie, than with me. And reviewers hailed Cassie as “a character readers can root for.”

I’d begun plotting the skeleton for the sixth installment, involving a golf reality show, a hunky cop, and murder, of course.

Then the word came from my editor: “We’d rather see a new idea—the numbers just haven’t been that good…”

Surprised or not, I was flooded with sadness and disappointment. No more Cassie Burdette mysteries? Like the end of a souring romance, I wished I’d been the one to call it quits.

Days later, waiting to sign books at the Malice Domestic mystery convention, I sat next to an older man with a soft voice and a full beard. He introduced himself as H.R.F. Keating—the Malice honoree for lifetime achievement, including twenty-five novels in his Inspector Ghote series. In response to his kind interest, I spilled the news that Cassie’s series was being killed. I’m quite certain that I cried. He assured me that he’d often thought his series went on too long, that perhaps years ago he’d said all he really had to say, and that seven books might be the optimum length for a series. Then the doors opened and a crush of fans queued up to have him sign books that spanned forty years.

Twenty-five novels, each one nudging back a little further the curtain obscuring Inspector Ghote’s personality: I realized there are many things I’ll never know about Cassie. Will she win a tournament? Have a relationship with golf psychologist Joe Lancaster? Get married? Overcome her fear of kids? Hey, I’ll never know if I’m a grandmother.

But life in the publishing business lumbers on: I’ve signed a contract for my next writing adventure. The new series will feature psychologist and advice columnist, Dr. Rebecca Butterman, a woman who made cameo appearances in several of the golf mysteries. 

Cassie wasn’t crazy about her—I can hear her voice now: “You’re writing about a psychologist? Rebecca Butterman? Bor-ing.”

And PS, back to me in the present, wasn’t I so lucky to be seated next to that sweet man at the exact moment I needed his calm? And ps, Cassie did make a brief appearance in ASKING FOR MURDER and DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS. I am a fictional grandmother.

Meanwhile, I am working madly on several projects, but I’m feeling very superstitious. So I decided not to say much about them…I’m not being a tease, I swear, just nauseously nervously anxiously cautious.

And meanwhile, all 7 books in this series can be found wherever books are sold!

Killer Takeout Cover Small


Posted on April 5, 2016 - by

KILLER TAKEOUT is here!

A few years ago, one of my friends mentioned that the foodie mystery series I’ve been writing since 2012 is really a love letter to Key West.

I hadn’t thought about it in exactly that way, but she was right of course. In all seven books, I’ve been excited to share the food and the setting and the people I’ve grown to love since John and I first visited the island ten years ago.

And since that conversation, we’ve had many wonderful moments. The Key West Island Bookstore (where I’ll hold a signing with some of my “characters,”) has a hard time keeping the books in stock.

coverThis winter, the series was included in a feature in Key West magazine about the best Key West beach reads. (I had to giggle seeing the young beach beauty on the cover reading AN APPETITE FOR MURDER–in large print!)

Of course, most of all I love hearing from readers who’ve become fans, whether because of the characters, the island, or the food. Let me tell you a little bit about the new book…

KILLER TAKEOUT: #7 in the Key West food critic series

Killer Takeout-1 Killer Takeout takes place during Fantasy Fest, a zany ten-day festival beginning with the unofficial zombie bike ride, and ending with an enormous, creative parade winding from the Truman waterfront across the length of Duval Street.

As always, John was a super good sport, as we got our faces painted like zombies for the bike ride, trotted around town in tutus (no body paint costumes for us though), and served as Fantasy Fest parade ambassadors. We also ate every kind of takeout we could get our hands on–because what seasoned food critic tries to elbow her way into a restaurant with 90,000 visitors crammed onto the island? The only research we avoided was experiencing a hurricane, which to me would be much more scary than zombies or people wearing body paint only.

I’ll be doing some signings to celebrate the new book–and hope to see you at one of them! Any of these stores will be happy to send you a signed book, or two…

April 7, from 5 to 7 pm, Key West Island Bookstore, 513 and 1/2 Fleming St.

April 21, 7 pm, Murder on the Beach, 273 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, Fl

May 4, 7 pm, RJ Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT 06443, 203.245.3959

June 5, 1 to 3 pm, Barnes and Noble, 1375 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT 06460

Starting today, KILLER TAKEOUT can be found wherever books are sold! You can also follow me and the Key West gang on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. And I blog every week with the wonderful writers at Jungle Red Writers and Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Also you might enjoy listening to this interview on NPR with reporter Nancy Klingener.

Posted on March 24, 2016 - by

Killer Takeout Launch Party

at the Key West Island Bookstore, 800 Fleming St, Key West–join Lucy and her characters!


Posted on March 24, 2016 - by

KILLER TAKEOUT: Key West book launch!

For immediate release: MARCH 24, 2016

KEY WEST MYSTERY CHARACTERS CONVERGE ON FLEMING STREET BOOKSTORE TO CELEBRATE “KILLER TAKEOUT”
Killer Takeout Cover SmallKiller Takeout (NAL/Signet), Lucy Burdette’s 7th Key West mystery, will be launched with a book signing party at Key West Island Bookstore on April 7 from 5 to 7, with many of Lucy’s “characters” in attendance.

“I was delighted when bookstore owner Suzanne Orchard invited me to launch the book at her store,” said Burdette, a Key West resident. “And then I cooked up the idea of inviting my characters to attend and sign books too. Recurring characters based on Key West people such as Lorenzo the tarot card reader (aka Ron Augustine) and Officer Steve Torrence have become beloved to my readers. Sharing the day with them feels special.”

KILLER TAKEOUT, the seventh installment in the Key West food critic mystery series, features Hayley Snow, an aspiring food critic and amateur sleuth living in America’s southernmost island paradise. Key West residents will recognize local details such as Houseboat Row, Robert the doll, the zombie bike ride, Mallory Square, and local eateries including Garbo’s Grill.

In KILLER TAKEOUT, the action kicks off during Fantasy Fest week, with a possible murder during the zombie bike ride, and a major tropical storm gathering speed below Cuba. Key Zest magazine has assigned food critic Hayley Snow to write a piece on the fest’s grab-and-go food, so she’s planning on hitting up the mobile eateries while checking out the party preparations. Meanwhile, Hayley’s office mate, Danielle, recently elected Queen of Fantasy Fest, is also buzzing between festivities and fundraisers. But when Danielle’s former royal rival gets taken out, Hayley needs to put down her party hat and her pen and figure out who served up a side of murder—before her friend gets crowned a killer.

Burdette’s (aka Roberta Isleib) first mystery series included 5 books featuring Cassie Burdette, an aspiring golf professional.  Her Advice Column series featured Rebecca Butterman, a fictional psychologist who lived in Connecticut. Isleib/Burdette’s books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She is a past-president of Sisters in Crime, a national organization founded to support women crime fiction writers.

About the Key West mystery series:

“Complete with a clever plot, a cast of familiar and amiable characters, a buffet of food and all the wackiness of Key West, “Fatal Reservations” displays Burdette at peak form and whets the appetite for Hayley’s next case.”—Jay Stafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch

And the Florida Book Review has said “in a crowded cozy market, Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic series stands out among its peers.”

For more information, contact Roberta Isleib/Lucy Burdette raisleib at gmail dot com or Suzanne Orchard, (305) 294-2904.


Posted on March 13, 2016 - by

Lucy’s Bio

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mystery series, including  AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, DEATH IN FOUR COURSES, and TOPPED CHEF  (NAL.) MURDER WITH GANACHE  DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, FATAL RESERVATIONS, and coming in April 2016, KILLER TAKEOUT.

Lucy’s alter-ego, clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib, has published eight mysteries including 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.

Lucy posts recipes every other Thursday on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram

or on her group blog, Jungle Red Writers. Jungle Red is a daily blog shared with six

Photo by Carol Tedesco

other best-selling women crime fiction writers. It’s The View. With Bodies!


Posted on January 11, 2016 - by

Hayley Snow Eats Key West: part 3

Lots of folks write to ask me for restaurant recommendations in Key West. I couldn’t do any better than Hayley Snow. So here are a few of her favorites:
Death with All the Trimmings copy 2from DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS:

Kojin Noodle Shop, Southard Street

“Then I roughed out a review of the Kojin Noodle shop–its light and savory dumplings, irresistible cold sesame noodles with shrimp, and the more adventurous pho and dragon bowl. I pulled the container of dumplings out of the bag, offered one to Wally, and then dragged another through a pool of spicy sauce and popped it into my mouth. Instant ecstasy.”

Latitudes, Sunset Key

“I tweaked my lead-in paragraph, which was all about the setting: the short ride across the harbor to Sunset Key on the private people ferry, the palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights, the flickering torches lining the path that lead to the restaurant, the aura of wealth and privilege. Then I moved on to the amazing, spicy, condiment-laden, bloody Mary–thinking I could use one of them before facing Ava. ”

Coles Peace Bakery, Eaton Street

“The lunch rush was in full swing, including a cluster of women ordering holiday pies and platters of Christmas cookies. I wormed my way to the counter, paid, and grabbed my sandwiches. The tantalizing smells of mustard and roasted pork and dill pickles called to me all the way over to the police station.”

Fatal ReservationsFrom FATAL RESERVATIONS:

Firefly, Petronia Street

“My eye caught on pimento cheese with spiced saltine crackers and a plate of fried green tomatoes–was it too early in the day for pimento cheese? My mouth watered at the prospect, which I took as a definitive no. Eric and I did the best we could with all the food that was delivered. The fried chicken with a thin crisp waffle and spicy maple syrup was my favorite, although Eric was crazy about the cheese grits and the kale salad.”

Old Town Bakery, Eaton Street

“I drove by the Old Town Bakery this morning and they had a special sandwich on their chalkboard. Italian with ham, soppressada, basil pesto, fontina, spinach, and tomato. On one of their homemade French bread loaves. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?”
“Absolutely. Dessert?” I asked.
“I’m on a diet,” he said, his voice halting and mournful. “I have to tap everything I eat into this smartphone app that adds the calories up on the spot. I think I’m already over the limit for today.”
“So the chocolate OMG brownie?”

And a few more suggestions:

Pepe’s Café, 806 Caroline Street, homey and cute

The Café, a mostly vegetarian place, 509 Southard Street, love their food, setting isn’t much

Salute! On the beach, 1000 Atlantic Blvd., can’t beat the setting

Coles Peace Artisan Bakery, 1111 Eaton St, carry out yummy sandwiches

Santiago’s Bodega, 207 Petronia St, little plates

Blue Heaven, 729 Thomas St, KW classic, courtyard seating with chickens

El Siboney, 900 Catherine St, homestyle Cuban comfort food, filling but not fancy

And here are a few others in a previous post


Posted on January 3, 2016 - by

Resolution: Changes in Attitude

First of all, Happy New Year! I’m grateful for each one of you readers. And now, in the first week of the new year, I thought I’d share my resolution…

John by our post

In Key West we have been assigned a horrible parking space. (I know, first world problem, but hear me out.) The driver must back in, with only about 6 inches of clearance between the car mirrors and two enormous concrete pillars on either side. I confess that I have avoided driving just because of this parking problem. But a couple of
weeks ago, I watched John as he swung gracefully out toward the opposite cars, and then glided backwards into our slot.

“You consider this a challenge, don’t you?” I asked in an accusatory voice.

He grinned and agreed that he did. And right then I decided since I have no other options, I might as well try to take that approach too.

Set that story aside for a minute.

In September, I was diagnosed with a disease called Meniere’s. The experts seem to think it involves too much fluid in the inner ear, resulting in vertigo, nausea, and tinnitus along with some deafness, among other symptoms. Though it could be a virus or any number of other possibilities. It’s not life-threatening, but it is life changing. For example, it’s important to reduce stress. (As one of my “spin” buddies said, I actually didn’t feel like I was that stressed until I got Meniere’s and uncontrollable vertigo!!!!!”)

There’s no cure at this point, since no one has a good grip on what actually causes it. But the main treatment is a low sodium diet, a diuretic, and staying away from caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and salt. (Maybe you heard the screams as this was explained to me last fall.) And using a list of drugs to help manage the dizzy episodes when they recur. (Which they do.)

Lucy in 2013

This has been a hard adjustment, as I’m used to feeling healthy. And I love food. I write about food, I talk about food, I get enormous pleasure from cooking and eating good food. I identify as a foodie. I boast that my maiden name “Isleib” means “is stomach” in German. So while I’m trying to do what I was told would help, I’ve done it with a lot of grumbling.

I’m no Pollyanna. I do have days when I feel lousy and tell my hub that maybe it’s time to push me out into the harbor in an old leaky boat.

“But wait,” I say, “I’d better take the old cat with me–he’d be too much for you. You guys don’t really connect.”

“And Tonka will want to go with you, no matter what the circumstances,” says John. “And you aren’t leaving me behind!”

And then we laugh like crazy imagining the Coast Guard or the Navy Seal divers coming to scoop the four of us out of the harbor. And I start poring over the No-Salt cookbooks again.

This is where the story of the parking space comes in. Somehow this year I am going to try to adjust my attitude about having this bizarre chronic disease, and about eating. No salt? No problem.
And that is my resolution, a change in how I view this condition, from yawping and yammering to acceptance.

How about you readers? Are you facing any big challenges this year? Or do you have tips to share about surviving one in your past?

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries. KILLER TAKEOUT, coming in April, is available for pre-order now.


Posted on December 16, 2015 - by

Key Lime Parfaits

People look at me with suspicion if I show up somewhere with a key lime dessert (and that’s with some good reason–I did off someone with a key lime pie in AN APPETITE FOR MURDER). But there’s no reason you shouldn’t have this delicious recipe, perfect for a holiday party. They will never suspect a thing…

Beep! Beep! Beep! There’s a calorie alert associated with this recipe. You should not go in with the idea (as I did) that a Key Lime Parfait would be a light dessert because  of the citrus…

With that warning out of the way, here’s the story behind the recipe. The fifth Key West mystery (DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS) features a New York chef who’s just opened a restaurant in Key West. She wants her new menu to reflect some of the tastes and history of the island, and this key lime parfait is one of the desserts she offers. So of course I had to try making one, and this is the result.

Key limes are smaller than regular limes–and here I have to tell the truth–kind of a pain to juice. John helped me and it took all the limes in a pound bag to end up with 1/2 cup of juice. (Next time, I might try the recipe with regular limes.)

INGREDIENTS

5 whole graham crackers, crushed, to make about one cup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice

key lime zest
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Crush the graham crackers. (Easy way–place the graham crackers in a ziplock bag, seal the bag, and roll them to crumbs with a rolling pin.)

Mix the crumbs with the melted butter and brown sugar. Spread this on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake for ten minutes or until golden. Let this cool, then break into crumbs again.

Meanwhile, whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla. (I used my food processor, which was a snap.) Set half of this aside for the topping.

Mix the condensed milk with the lime juice. The citrus will cause the milk to thicken. Gently stir in one cup of whipped cream.


Now comes the fun part, in which you layer the parts you’ve prepared. I chose wine snifters–next time I would try something taller and thinner, as these servings were BIG.

Layer in some of the baked crumbs, then some of the key lime mixture, and repeat. When you have distributed all the ingredients, top with dollops of whipped cream and sprinkle with more crumbs and some zested lime if you want a stronger flavor.

And then lean back and enjoy the compliments!  (and by way, DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS makes a Perfect Stocking Stuffer!)


Posted on December 5, 2015 - by

Anatomy of a Short Story: Last Mango in Paradise

Every once in a great while, an idea for a short story pops into my head. I don’t find these easy to write, and of course the idea has to be a perfect jewel—something that can draw the readers in quickly, not overwhelm them with characters and backstory, and get wrapped up in a short time. Ha, nothing to it! But I do have one that came out in November in the Level Best Books’ anthology, RED DAWN.

Here’s a little about how it came to be…

A couple of years ago, a friend Jack Getze, had an idea about a cat in a story. He said I could have it, as it was cozy by nature, something he would never use. I filed this away. (I know, I’m being coy but I don’t want to spoil the ending.)

And then I saw a group of women in Key West playing mah-jongg by the pool. This was already an activity that Miss Gloria loved. I could imagine that in between hands, the women would gossip about unusual events on the island. I joined the real players one morning to watch them play, to learn a bit about the game, and to take notes on the exchanges between the ladies, and the setting. Into the file went those pages.

Next, John and I went to Utah for a wedding a year and a half ago, and returned via Las Vegas. The fellow sitting next to John on the plane turned out to be a professional gambler. It was so interesting to hear him describe how he studied his competition—what he noticed and then how he used these observations in his betting. I took furious notes. And then filed them away.

And then the wonderful editors of LEVEL BEST BOOKS, who publish an anthology of crime fiction by New England writers every year, announced that this November’s issue would be their swan song. I sure wanted to get a story in that collection!

I thought of a title that I’d pitched more than once for one of the Key West mysteries: LAST MANGO IN PARADISE. Neither my editor nor the rest of the staff liked it. So now I had motive, characters, action, setting, and a title. All I had to do was write and submit. Ha!

I’m thrilled that the story was accepted and published. It features Hayley Snow, my series protagonist, and her senior citizen roommate, Miss Gloria. And here’s how it begins:

Last Mango in Paradise by Lucy Burdette

Even after Mrs. Silpat was poisoned to death in her Key West conch cottage, the mah-jongg players would not eschew refreshments. Or so insisted my geriatric houseboat-mate, Miss Gloria. If anything, she added, the shock was likely to render the ladies ravenous.

The tragedy had unfolded the week before when Miss Gloria went to pick up her friend for their regular game. Mrs. Silpat had not been her favorite friend–she wasn’t loyal. She put herself first in any situation. And anything she baked ended up tasting like sawdust or old chicken fat. All that aside, years of clacking tiles together, chatting about families scattered to the winds, and exchanging recipes, meant something important in Miss Gloria’s book.

Miss Gloria had knocked loudly several times on Mrs. Silpat’s door and finally went in without an invitation. When she found the woman collapsed in her kitchen, by all appearances dead, her first call was to me–a food critic, not a cop.

“I’m too shook up to think,” she’d said.

“Hang up and call 911 right away. I’m not in the police department, remember?” I told her gently. “I’ll take a cab over ASAP so I can drive you home.”

By the time the pink cab dropped me off in the narrow one-way street in front of Mrs. Silpat’s eyebrow-style house with gingerbread trim, two police cars with their lights flashing flanked Miss Gloria’s old Buick. A fire department EMT van had nosed into her driveway. I hurried onto the porch but was instantly repelled by a cop in polyester blue.

“My roommate’s inside,” I said. “She found her friend–”

He held up a paw the size of an oven mitt. “You need to wait out here.”

As I settled into a wood rocker, an enormous fluffy cat the color of salted caramel leaped onto the porch and wound in figure eights around my legs. Miss Gloria burst out of the house; the screen door slammed behind her.

“I’m sprung, at least for the time being. Let’s scram before they change their minds.”

The words sounded tough from an old lady who’d just lost a friend, but I could see the tremble in her lower lip. The big cat approached Miss Gloria and meowed.

“Oh, Mango,” said Miss Gloria, tears filling her eyes. She leaned over to ruffle the tufts of fur behind his ears. “I’ll have to let Miriam know he’s here. She lives nearby and she loves cats and I bet she’ll want to take him in, poor guy. And oh lordy, the other girls will be wondering if I up and croaked. Anytime I’m a little late, they think I’ve been called to the great Beyond.” She whipped out her cell phone and began texting the news of the cancellation of the game and more importantly, Mrs. Silpat’s death.

And you can buy this fabulous collection of stories on Amazon or at the Level Best Books website.


Posted on June 8, 2015 - by

Don’t be Afraid by Miss Gloria

(Every once in a while we invite the characters from the Key West mysteries to share a post. Today Hayley Snow’s roommate, Miss Gloria, has something to say…)

photo by Carol Tedesco

by Miss Gloria from the Lucy Burdette Key West food critic mysteries

I have a new job, did I mention that? Probably not, as I don’t remember things exactly the way I used to LOL. Anyway Key West has a beautiful, historical cemetery containing tons of fascinating stories of former islanders, and beautiful carved stones and crypts, too. So I’ve volunteered to be trained as a cemetery tour guide.

Photo by Carol Tedesco

My adorable roommate, food critic Hayley Snow, is not a fan of my new activity. Honestly? I think she’s terrified that all that death will rub off on me and I’ll and end up in one of those tombs instead of being on the outside telling their stories. But as I tell Hayley, we need to remind ourselves about our history, about the interesting people that came before us. We’ll want some little old ladies remembering us in the decades to come, won’t we?

Anyway, I’m not superstitious. And besides, often the people we should be afraid of are the live ones, not the dead. I should warn you we are bound to find some things in this cemetery that might not belong there.

You’ll be able to read all about that in our July book, FATAL RESERVATIONS. You can pre-order that story right here.

Photo by Carol Tedesco

What do you think about cemeteries? Do you love them or do they freak you out?

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

 



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