No Reservations about Food and Mysteries

Posted by Barbara Ross, working on her big front porch overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, on about the most beautiful Monday ever

Hi All–The Wickeds’ friend and mentor Lucy Burdette has guested before. (You can read the prior interviews here and here.) Today, we’re honored to have her on the actual release day for her latest Key West Food Critic Mystery–Fatal Reservations. I love this series!

Take it away, Lucy.

Fatal ReservationsLUCY BURDETTE: I was asked to participate on an alumni panel a few weeks ago that asked this question: Is America food-obsessed? Looking at the world of mystery readers and writers, I’d say a definite yes. When I first began writing the Key West mysteries, I knew that I was joining a long tradition of cozy foodie mysteries. I’d been a fan of Diane Mott Davidson’s popular series about an amateur sleuth/caterer in Boulder CO since her first book was published. And since then, the field has mushroomed with wonderful foodie novels, including of course, several Wicked Cozy writers.

But I was feeling my way with food in books. My first series character (Cassie in the golf lovers mysteries) was no foodie—her best and only recipe was hot dog casserole. Rebecca Butterman in the advice column series was an excellent cook, though far from a professional chef. But her home-cooked meals comforted friends in trouble, calmed her own nerves, and served to distract people while she grilled them (sorry!) for information. My third character, Hayley Snow, is a food critic as well as a good cook. In other words, food is a huge part of her life, as well as her livelihood.

Are readers buying these books for the recipes? I don’t think so. (Some of the fans I hear from don’t cook at all.) My theory? They are drawn to the community and the sense of connection that they find in foodie mysteries. As I did while reading about Diane Mott Davidson’s caterer, they like to imagine sitting in the characters’ kitchens and eating their food. And that’s the kind of character I’ve tried to write—a woman who loves food, but loves her family and friends even more. When someone’s in trouble, like her tarot-card-reading pal Lorenzo in FATAL RESERVATIONS, Hayley’s first instinct is to feed them. This doesn’t always solve the problem, but her friends always know she cares. Here’s an example of how she thinks, as she’s deciding to make nocciolato fudge for her beleaguered pal:

fudgeandcookiesIt was the kind of treat that read: “You deserve this lump of sweetness. We love you. We’re so, so, so sorry.” Half frozen oatmeal raisin cookies simply couldn’t do the same job. They couldn’t shoulder the same emotional load as organic hazelnut fudge sprinkled with pink sea salt.

Readers, are you a fan of foodie fiction? Whose kitchen table would you like a seat at?

About FATAL RESERVATIONS: In the sixth Key West Food Critic mystery, Hayley Snow’s beat is reviewing restaurants for Key Zest magazine. But she sets aside her knife and fork when a dear friend is accused of murder…

Hayley Snow looks forward to reviewing For Goodness’ Sake, a new floating restaurant that promises a fresh take on Japanese delicacies like flambeed grouper with locally sourced seaweed. But nearby land-based restaurateurs would rather see their buoyant competition sink. Sent to a City Commission meeting to cover the controversy, Hayley witnesses another uproar. The quirky performers of the daily Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square are struggling to hold onto their performance space. And this fight has renewed old rivalries between Hayley’s Tarot-card reading friend Lorenzo and a flaming-fork-juggling nemesis, Bart Frontgate. Then Frontgate is found murdered. If Lorenzo could read his own cards, he might draw The Hanged Man. He can only hope that Hayley draws Justice as she tries to clear him of murder.

Fatal Reservations is on sale today. You can buy it wherever books are sold.

picketfenceauthorsmallAbout the author: Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 14 mysteries, including FATAL RESERVATIONS, the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime. Lucy blogs about food and mysteries at Mystery Lovers Kitchen ( and Jungle Red Writers ( You can also find her on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and Pinterest (

Recipe for Hayley’s fudge:

Recipe for Cassie’s Hot Dog Casserole:

20 Thoughts

  1. Can’t wait to read the new book, Lucy – and it’s due to arrive today! Also can’t wait to make that fudge. My heart’s all pitter patter just thinking about it. ;^)

    I have loved foodie mysteries for a long time – Davidson and Katherine Hall Page were two of the reasons I started writing a mystery twenty years ago. But the table I’d like to have a seat at would have been Julia Child’s. Sigh.

  2. Congratulations on the publication of Fatal Reservations, Lucy! You have another terrific cover. I think of the delicious food in your books as part of the setting, which combined with Key West is a win-win. But Hayley Snow isn’t lost in all of the pleasure and place in your series. She’s a strong protagonist and I’d definitely look forward to sharing a meal with her and getting to know her even better. It’s so sweet to read about great food without packing on the pounds eating it!

    1. thanks Michele! I appreciate you saying she’s a strong character. She started out on a rough patch, but as my mother-in-law would say, she’s improved:)

  3. Not a foodie, here. I skip the recipes at the back of cozies. But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a well-written mystery that just happens to include cooking, baking, and eating. Looking forward to reading Fatal Reservations.


    1. Thanks Kathy. I’m sunk so deeply into the world of foodie mysteries, that I sometimes forget other people aren’t foodies! It’s to remember so I don’t bore some readers to tears:)

  4. I’m not a foodie either but I love this series. And I sign up for getting to eat with Haley too! It’s such a great series. I’ve never been to Key West but I feel like I have through your books!

    1. Oh Sherry, Wicked Cozy retreat in Key West this winter??? and congrats on your new book–I have it on my nightstand, calling to me.

  5. I just bought my copy and can’t wait to dig in *wink*. I love foodie stories because I love food – both the making of and the eating of. I am a foodie, read cookbooks like novels, and most of my bookmarked blogs are food related, hehe. With that said, I need to proceed with baking some bread.

    1. thanks Luanna, I love that you read cookbooks like novels:). I must admit to owning more than I could probably use in a lifetime, but I find them irresistible. Hope you enjoy the book!

  6. I love to eat, so I enjoy foodie mysteries. My first real foodie series was Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series, and I made quite a few of the recipes at one time. Granted, that’s been years now. Still, with each culinary cozy I read (and there are a lot of them), I always turn to the back to see what the recipes are before I even start the book. Someday, I’m going to start making some of them.

    I started reading about Hayley last year, and I’m not up to date on this series. The latest is fantastic, and you’re going to love it! I would love to sit and share a meal with her since her food sounds so fantastic. And, yes, I’d also love to visit Hannah’s The Cookie Jar, just between murders.

  7. I LOVE this series, Lucy! I think this is one of the best of the cozy series out there today. And I love it that Hayley didn’t start off a sleuthing genius or a perfect person–we have to give our characters room to grow. (FYI, I got that criticism about my heroine, so maybe I’m projecting on poor Hayley, LOL! But I stand by my choices to have her making bad decisions in the first book.) Key West Retreat? Um, yeah! Can’t wait to read this one, and congratulations!

  8. Delicious reading! . . . and I might have to make that fudge sometime, maybe for a potluck so I won’t eat it all. Thanks for vicarious, tasty adventure.

  9. Lucy, I love your hotdog casserole. I substitute HP Steak sauce. Sometimes I add sliced rounds of canned sweet potato and make it a yellow veggie day.

    Suddenly I’m thinking this is going to be an “I’ve had this axe for 30 years story. I’ve only replaced the handle 16 times and the head 5.”

    I use onion instead of green pepper. I order B&M Baked beans and their brown bread with raisins by the case. Sometimes I grill the sliced brown bread and serve it to sop up the bean broth gravy stuff. Or I make cold beans on toasted brown bread the next day if there are enough leftovers. There never are. It’s too delicious. I don’t think our kids ever had a Boston baked bean sandwich.

    I invented a poutine version of this, but it isn’t pretty. Is poutine ever pretty, though?

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