by Sandra Murphy
This week we are reviewing another fun food mystery, Killer Takeout by Lucy Burdette. We also have an interesting interview with Lucy aka Roberta Isleib. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of this book and a link to buy it from Amazon.
Killer Takeout: A Key West Food Critic Mystery By Lucy Burdette
Review by Sandra Murphy
After one of the hottest summers in Key West history, the heat shows no sign of ending even with Halloween approaching. Few can party like these Floridians, a questionable trait highlighted by the ten-day celebration of Fantasy Fest. A zombie bike ride, costume parade, tutu party, and pet masquerade contest are the tamest events involving participants donning little more than body paint.
Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow is covering a few of these events, but what has her taste buds salivating are her reviews of quality takeout food from local restaurants, food carts, and food trucks. Although Hayley will have to juggle her duties as a Fantasy Fest parade ambassador, she is looking forward to the arrival of her mother and future stepfather before their beach wedding. It’s another ceremony that heralds stormy days ahead when the Key Zest receptionist Danielle Kamen is crowned queen of Fantasy Fest for her charity earnings, and rival Caryn Druckman is a less than graceful loser.
When Caryn’s very dead body is discovered during the undead Zombie bike parade, Hayley is justifiably concerned that Danielle may be implicated. The descent of over one hundred thousand revelers onto the island exasperates the tensions between native “conchs” and the wealthier new arrivals, and law enforcement will have their hands full keeping the chaos in check. The situation has Hayley’s (well, they had one date) Detective Nathan Bransford even more terse than normal, and communication is something she needs considering the rumors stirring around his rebounding ex-wife. It’s the worst time for an impending hurricane, but unfortunately the tropical storm approaching is proving to be as unpredictable as that of Hayley’s employment now that her new boss is proving to be less amiable than expected.
This very skillfully crafted mystery depicts a setting that is as enviably gorgeous as it is dangerous. The abundance of likable, well-developed characters is matched only by the absolutely tantalizing descriptions of the cuisine. The inclusion of quotes from the best in food writing – including those from novels written by the author – will have readers eagerly delving into their sources that span from the New York Times to Virginia Woolf. Social media, through blogging, Instagram, and Facebook, is integral both to the plot and to the new wave of journalism Hayley is embracing. Readers will love this captivating novel that reflects the many flavors of Key West, all championed by the equally enchanting Hayley Snow.
Interview with Lucy Burdette AKA Roberta Isleib:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Lucy: I began to write in the late 1990s, beginning with some essays about the psychology of golf. I was working as a clinical psychologist and after meeting my husband, became obsessed with learning golf. Gradually that morphed into my first mystery featuring neurotic aspiring professional golfer Cassie Burdette.
Five books in the golf lovers mystery series were published, beginning with Six Strokes Under in 2002. I had such a blast writing these! In that first book, Cassie is attending the qualifying school where the golfers play to determine who will go on to the professional tour. It’s a very stressful four days. Having to deal with several murderers does not help her game!
KRL:What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Lucy: Killer Takeout, my most recent novel, is the seventh book in the Key West food critic series, and my 15th book published. (Hard to believe so much water has rushed under the bridge.)
Key West was a slam dunk as a choice for setting. It has some amazing draws–palm trees, turquoise water, Conch-style houses with eyebrow windows and gingerbread trim. It perches on an exposed coral reef at the very end of the Keys, as close as you can get to a Caribbean island without leaving the country.
Besides all that, my writer’s brain is constantly fed by a stream of events and people that fire up my imagination. Where else but Key West could you…
*Pay a dollar to get your picture taken with Elvis?
*March your Australian shepherd in a parade of Dachshunds dressed in hot dog costumes?
*Celebrate Sunset every night with a tarot card reader?
I could go on and on ? chickens, cats, sunsets, drag queens ? but I think you get the idea. I love Key West and so does my main character, food critic Hayley Snow. She followed a man to Key West and when that relationship tanked, she found a way to stay on the island.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Lucy: Of course my mysteries are meant to entertain, but I can’t help including other issues as I write. One of them is portraying psychologists as smart, insightful professionals rather than the nut jobs we are also often shown as in the movies. And I’d like to try to get my characters into therapy if they need it. It certainly helped Cassie with her golf game!
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Lucy: I try to shoot for 1000 words a day when I’m on deadline, and most of that happens in the morning before my brain gets overloaded.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Lucy: I outlined more thoroughly in the earlier books. Now I begin with an idea about setting, the crime, some suspects, and the things that will change in my characters’ lives. Usually I know the ending, so I have something to shoot for.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Lucy: Yes, getting published is very hard, especially breaking into to traditional publishers. But I am very persistent, so when I hear “no thanks” (which I have a lot), I take a little time to wallow in the misery of the moment. Then I try to learn from what’s being said and move on.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story in a bookstore or other venue?
Lucy: I was attending the US Women’s Golf championship at Mount Holyoke, MA (research of course.) Two of the women golfers were putting during a practice round. Kate Golden (an excellent professional with whom I’d played once for a research outing, stopped to point me out to famous golfer Donna Andrews.)
“Look, there’s Roberta Isleib,” she said. “She writes golf mysteries.”
“Oh, I love her books!” Donna announced. All the crowd turned to look. Great moment!).
KRL: How fun! Future writing goals?
Lucy: I’d like to write a novel of suspense and also a children’s book. Working on both of those now and more books in the Key West series of course…
KRL: Writing heroes?
Lucy: William Zinsser, Diane Mott Davidson, Agatha Christie, E.B. White…really too many to list!
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Lucy: For one example, I attended the Key West Citizens’ Police Academy. This involved eight weeks of listening to all kinds of police experts, like police dog handlers, search and rescue teams, SWAT teams, traffic cops…and to top it off, a ride-along with a real cop, which ended up including a visit to the local jail. Mystery writer’s heaven! Readers saw some of these great details in Murder With Ganache. And I used others in the new book, Killer Takeout. For this series, we’ve also been forced to eat out a lot!
KRL: I could go for that kind of research lol. What do you read?
Lucy: Lots of mysteries, of course. But also memoirs (often food-related) and women’s fiction. Right now I’m reading The Lake House by Kate Morton. Masterful suspense!
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Lucy: For movies, romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. TV, I’m addicted to Nashville and Orange Is the New Black. But also enjoy The Good Wife. Best show of all time? Friday Night Lights.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Lucy: I love it when I’ve sweated through the first draft and get to go back and revise. Tweaking words and sentences and buffing up descriptions and figuring out what my characters are feeling and making sure the reader will get this ? it’s so much fun at this stage. And of course, what could be better than typing THE END? The hardest part is the middle, when I’m not quite sure where I’m headed and it feels like I’ll never get there…but to get to the end, I must slog through the middle.
And that brings up my best advice: Get butt in chair and write! And don’t be in hurry to send things out ? take the time to polish and have others read and critique. Because the competition is fierce so you need to show your very best work.
Thanks so much for interviewing me for Kings River Life!
KRL: Thanks for chatting with us! Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of Killer Takeout, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “takeout,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 21, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
You can use this link to purchase this book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link.