Edith here, still coming down from Malice, but delighted to welcome a good friend of the Wickeds, Lucy Burdette – who has a brand-new Key West Food Critic mystery out! She’s giving away a copy to one lucky commenter. Here’s the cover description of A Deadly Feast:
Before Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow’s family descends on the island for Thanksgiving and her wedding to heartthrob Detective Nathan Bransford, she has one last assignment–a review of a seafood tasting tour conducted by her friend Analise Smith. But when one of the tourists collapses on the last stop, Analise begs her to investigate before the police destroy her business and shut down the local Key West eateries on her tour. Pressure mounts when Analise calls a second time to request that Hayley meet with Chef Martha Hubbard, who prepared key lime pies for the tasting tour and is terrified that someone poisoned her pies to ruin her reputation. Chefs all around town are preparing their versions of a Thanksgiving feast, but with a murderer on the loose, will Hayley and her friends have anything left to be thankful for?
In Search of a Believable Amateur Sleuth
First things first—a big thank you to the Wickeds for allowing me to be a guest on your fabulous blog! Love you guys to death…well not quite…
On my mind today is believable amateur sleuths—what is the secret? It’s such an important question for a traditional or cozy mystery series. I figured this group of talented writers and discerning readers would have no trouble weighing in…
For me, the hardest part of writing an amateur sleuth is courting suspension of disbelief. My readers must be persuaded to suspend disbelief in every way—characters, plot, setting, everything! Savvy readers won’t tolerate ridiculous behavior of the nonprofessional sleuth for very long. My character, Hayley Snow, is a food critic in Key West. Since her profession does not explain her involvement in crime-solving, her intense interest in mysteries must happen because of her relationships with other characters and her own personality and history.
In the first food critic mystery, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, Hayley Snow becomes involved in solving a murder because she is a Person of Interest. She actually has a very good motive for murdering this woman, so she also has a big stake in finding the real killer.
With each successive installment, I have tried to think about who Hayley cares about and what secrets they have that might lead to murder, and why they might turn to her for help. I have tried to build this urgency to resolve the mystery into her history and psychology and her present moment. What is happening in her life at this moment that draws her in? What is her *stake* in the mystery? What does she want more than anything else in the world? How will the crime affect her in this book—and affect people whom she loves? How has she grown and changed over the series? How will her relationships fluctuate and mature? I try to focus the book so that mystery challenges my sleuth to give the best of what she’s got—and to write this so it sounds plausible. It’s not easy!
In A DEADLY FEAST, food critic book #9, which came out this week from Crooked Lane Books, Hayley Snow is supposed to get married to her heartthrob, police detective Nathan Bransford. They first met when she was a suspect in murder by Key lime pie. Now they’re engaged. Having Nathan in her life adds another wrinkle because he’d prefer she stay out of everything crime-related. I thought you might enjoy this little snippet of conversation between Nathan and Hayley while they’re waiting for their marriage counseling session. I hope it shows some of the conflict between them!
After the waitress delivered our drinks, his in solid white china and mine in a tall clear plastic cup, I asked him what he’d heard about the incident in the brewery. “It’s not just morbid curiosity,” I assured him, though he looked dubious. “You know I was right there when the woman took ill.”
“Yes, and I find that astonishing.” His eyebrows peaked in mock dismay. “Not.”
I’d developed something of a reputation for showing up at murder scenes. And while there, I seemed to notice things more than other people did, and make connections that they might have missed. Friends knew I’d sorted out a few mysteries. And I was pegged as more approachable and less intimidating than the cops. Nathan wasn’t thrilled about any of this.
Readers: Which traits and behaviors in traditional/cozy mysteries cause you to stop reading? What can you overlook? I will send a copy to one lucky commenter!
Links for Lucy:
Crooked Lane Books: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/lucyburdette
Twitter: www.twitter.com/lucyburdette @lucyburdette
Jungle Red Writers: www.jungleredwriters.com
Mystery Lovers Kitchen: www.mysteryloverskitchen.com