The New Cat on the Block in Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic Mystery Series

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Guest post by Lucy Burdette
This post contains affiliate links*

Last May, when Ingrid graciously invited me to write a guest post to celebrate the release of my Key West food critic mystery, A Deadly Feast, I chose to write about adopting my new kitten T-bone. He came from the Florida Keys SPCA and you can read that story here.

In a nutshell, other than a few Houdini-worthy escapes and a few incidents of carpet peeing, T-bone has been a wonderful addition to the family. I wanted very much to include him in my next mystery, The Key Lime Crime, which hit bookshelves yesterday. It’s pretty common for me to include real life places and people in my books—many of the restaurants are real places where we’ve eaten. And places like the Hemingway Home and the Harry Truman Little White House exist on the island. But I had to think of a way to make this new cat an integral part of the story, rather than jamming him into the plot. If you’ve read any of the previous books in the series, you might remember that my main character food critic Hayley Snow and her octogenarian roommate Miss Gloria live on a houseboat in houseboat row. They both have cats, and Hayley’s heartthrob also has a small dog. Could T-bone find a place there?

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Here’s what I wrote for T-bone’s introduction to readers—this happens right after Hayley, her mother-in-law Helen, and Miss Gloria discover a murder victim dressed in a Santa suit:

Miss Gloria approached the sidewalk where I stood with Nathan’s mother, watching Nathan interview the bystanders. She was carrying an orange tiger kitten with white paws, one of them half white, half orange like a frosted half-and-half cookie. Even though Miss Gloria crooned sweet kitty nothings to him, he seemed terrified, ready to bolt the instant she loosened her grip. He mouthed a silent meow.   

“That’s T-bone,” the chatty neighbor said. “I’m surprised you were able to lure him out of the shrubbery, he’s a little skittish with strangers.”  

“Soft kitty, warm kitty…” sang Miss Gloria. He snuggled lower into her arms and I was pretty sure I heard him begin to purr, exactly like the kitten in the song.   

“We’ve seen a lot more of him than we’ve seen of his owner lately,” the neighbor said. “I’m not sure she was even feeding him. He was over on my porch most mornings. I admit I gave him some snacks. But I couldn’t take him in, my big guy would tear him to bits.”  

She held her arms out for the kitten. “I volunteer for the Florida Keys Humane Society so I’ll call someone to pick him up. I can check on him tomorrow during my shift.”   

Miss Gloria looked near tears, but we had about all the living things we could handle on our little houseboat. Adding a kitten would push us deep into the red zone of crazy pet people. She handed the tiger kitten over and I circled my arm around her waist. “It’ll be easy to find that guy a good home—he’s wicked cute.”   

Miss Gloria whispered: “The real reason I wanted to come here again is I thought I saw a kitten in the bushes. Turns out I had.”  

“Wait,” Nathan said, “you thought you saw a kitten and it just happened to be next door to a dead person?”  

T-bone made it onto the new cover as well—along with Hayley’s cat Evinrude, who has appeared on every book cover. I hope you enjoy the story!

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About The Key Lime Crime

With her intimidating new mother-in-law bearing down on the island and a fierce rivalry between Key lime pie bakers to referee, food critic Hayley Snow is feeling anything but festive…

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s and Key West is bursting at the seams with holiday events and hordes of tourists. Adding to the chaos, Key lime pie aficionado David Sloan has persuaded the city to host his Key Lime pie extravaganza and contest. Hayley Snow can’t escape the madness because her bosses at Key Zest magazine have assigned her to cover the event. Every pie purveyor in Key West is determined to claim the Key lime spotlight—and win the coveted Key Lime Key to the City.

Another recipe for disaster—Hayley’s hubby, police detective Nathan Bransford, announces that his mother will be making a surprise visit. Newlywed Hayley must play the dutiful daughter-in-law, so 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. And the victim is no stranger: Hayley recognizes the controversial new pastry chef from Au Citron Vert, a frontrunner in Sloan’s contest.

Hayley must not only decipher who’s removed the chef from the contest kitchen, she’s also got to handle a too-curious mother-in-law who seems to be cooking up trouble of her own.

“Charming characters, an appealing setting, and mouthwatering bonus recipes make this a perfect choice for foodie cozy lovers.” Publishers’ Weekly, May 2020

“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

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About Lucy Burdette

Clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) has published 16 mysteries, including the latest in the Key West food critic series, Death on the Menu (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 JungleRedWriters.com and shares her love for food with the culinary writers at MysteryLoversKitchen.com. She lives in Madison CT and Key West FL. Read more at http://www.lucyburdette.com. You can also find Lucy on Facebook and Instagram.

The Key Lime Crime is available from Amazon.

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*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves. I received this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

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