It’s A Good Thing They’re Cute–Welcome Back Guest Catrionia McPherson

Reading a post by Catrionia is like getting a shot of happiness and laughter. I’m delighted to welcome her back to The Wickeds as she celebrates the release of Scot in a Trap.

Catrionia: In SCOT IN A TRAP, (Last Ditch Motel No.5), there’s a murder, a few laughs, lots of food, snark about California from the Scot, snark about Scotland from the Californians . . . all that good stuff. But this time there’s something else as well.

A brand-new baby

I’m not the most disciplined of writers and so it’s no surprise that I wrote this baby in all her rank and waxy just-born glory during the time of COVID when, back home in Scotland, three (THREE!) new babies were born into my family and I couldn’t get to see any of them.

One of them was born when I should have been right there in 2020 and I planned to elbow my way to the front of the cuddle queue on day one, playing the “I missed the last six” card. Hmph.

I love new babies. Love them! Whether they little aliens, little simians, little Alfred Hitchcocks, little Buddhas . . . they’re all beautiful to me and endlessly interesting. I know that’s not the case for everyone.

I lied. I hear that’s not the case for everyone, but I don’t believe it. Of course we all love newborn babies! We’ve got to. Our species would never have survived if we weren’t hardwired to be turned to protective and selfless mush at the sight of a new baby.

It doesn’t even need to be a new baby human: kittens, rabbits, puppies, squirrels, ducklings – they all do to us what babies do.


I reckon if someone can walk past a kitten/puppy adoption event without a look and at least one “Awwwww!” they must be a bit of a sociopath. Or a cyborg. Once we’re beyond mammals and birds it gets a bit more iffy. Is a tadpole cute? Is a caterpillar? But close to our own species, we’re a goner.

I mean, Disney made fabulous fortunes exploiting exactly this evolutionary adaptation, with animals who all had huge eyes, small noses (even Dumbo) and squeaky voices. I wonder if the people who (claim they) are immune to the charm of a new baby surprising herself by sneezing, or a slightly older baby finding his toes for the first time, or a grand old baby of almost one joyfully tasting/wearing an avocado, are immune to Disney too.

Objectively, I can see the pros and cons of a new baby. PRO: they stay where you put them and the catering is not complicated. (Except they can roll when they’re swaddled and the catering can cause excruciating pain.) CON: mostly smells and substances. PRO + CON: they issue very clear instructions that they are displeased, but in the form of ear-splitting yells that they can’t unpack for you if you don’t understand.

The new baby at the Last Ditch cries from the moment of birth until the last chapter, and explodes from every orifice with impressive regularity. I wrote eight besotted adults nevertheless and just one somewhat wary six-year-old, who can see the writing on the wall about his status as Boy Emperor beginning to crumble. (But even he can’t get over the teensy toenails.)

So how about you, Wickeds and readers? Do babies turn you to a mush that makes applesauce look like jerky? Or can you explain how you resist them? 


A mysterious object the size of a suitcase, all wrapped in bacon and smelling of syrup, can mean only one thing: Thanksgiving at the Last Ditch Motel. This year the motel residents are in extra-celebratory mood as the holiday brings a new arrival to the group – a bouncing baby girl.

But as one life enters the Ditch, another leaves it. Menzies Lassiter has only just checked in. When resident counsellor Lexy Campbell tries to deliver his breakfast the next day, she finds him checked out. Permanently.  Shocking enough if he were stranger, but Lexy recognises that face. Menzies was her first love until he broke her heart many years ago.

What’s he doing at the Last Ditch? What’s he doing dead? And how can Lexy escape the fact that she alone had the means, the opportunity – and certainly the motive – to kill him?

Bio: Catriona McPherson (she/her) was born in Scotland and immigrated to the US in 2010. She writes: preposterous 1930s detective stories, set in the old country and featuring an aristocratic sleuth; modern comedies set in the Last Ditch Motel in fictional (yeah, sure) California; and, darker than both of those (which is not difficult), a strand of contemporary psychological thrillers.

Her books have won or been shortlisted for the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Lefty, the Macavity, the Mary Higgins Clark award and the UK Ellery Queen Dagger. She has just introduced a fresh character in IN PLACE OF FEAR, which finally marries her love of historicals with her own working-class roots, but right now, she’s writing the sixth book in what was supposed to be the Last Ditch trilogy.

Catriona is a proud lifetime member and former national president of Sisters in Crime.

30 Thoughts

  1. That avocado picture is the best! Is it of a relative?

    No, I can’t resist babies in the least, and I’m sorry you had to miss the new ones in your family. How fun to put one in your book, even if it does scream.!

    1. It a complete sucker for kittens and puppies. More for the felines than canines, to be honest, since there’s less potty training.
      Human babies are fine, too. My wife and I managed to keep our two alive into adulthood, so mission accomplished.

    1. Once when I was standing in the queue at the fruit stand waiting to pay for a really enormous watermelon, I realised I was bouncing gently from foot to foot and patting it on its bottom. Something about the shape and the weight!

  2. I’m definitely in the love ’em category – any and all of them. Love the fresh from the bath smell – which makes up for the awful diaper experiences. Love those I can get anything I want eyes from human babies to doggie babies. Love the conversations you can have that bring our own child like voices out. Really – what’s not to love?

    Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “SCOT IN A TRAP”. Sounds wonderful and is already on my TBR list.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. Oh, that clean baby scent. That would be the best perfume ever.

    Love babies. But I don’t want any more of my own. Love the fact I can hand them back to their parental units to deal with the screaming and the mess.

    1. Right? Give them a drum kit for Christmas and step away. actually, my best ever “not my problem” present was a picture book called Let’s Get a Pup!

  4. The avocado pix is priceless! No matter how messy, I want to wrap that little one into a big hug.

    Babies? Never had any of my own so of course I love them all. I’ve been known to coo at babies in the grocery and offer to hold the screaming bundles when moms or dads seem overwhelmed.

    1. Me too! I Once time I awwed and ahhed at a tiny baby in Target and then said to the dad “Sorry, if I’m holding you up.” He said “Nope. This is her first time out and we’re done. Mama’s waiting in the car. I wanted to do one more lap.”

  5. Nope. Not a baby fan. I couldn’t have loved my daughter any more (and that’s still the case) but I didn’t like her because she was a baby and then a little kid. I was a good mommy, but I just don’t have the “baby gene”. When I see a baby I tend to walk away before someone hands the kid to me. Now, I do love kittens…. 🙂

    1. Hmmmmmm. Interesting. I’ll give you this: if all you had to do with a human baby was show it its litter tray once, they would be even better.

  6. Thank you for having me back, Wickeds, especially for a nakedly shameless blog indulging my love of these three little poppets and all the others too. I saw a baby frog on someones’ fingernail on QI the other day and decided that was definitely in the fold. Involuntary “D’awwww”.

  7. Oh, yes, baby love! The best.

    Our family is expecting twin girls in early spring, and especially heartwarming surprise from a cousin who survived testicular cancer three years ago. We are all holding our breath, but can’t wait to lavish love on these miracle babies.

  8. They are cute to look at. I am more of a look at them than a hold and cuddle them. The exception being my niece and nephew when they were little.

  9. Welcome to the Wickeds, Catrionia! I’m not a baby person per se, but I do love mine–kids and grandkids. In fact, it kind of took me by surprise how much I loved them at first sight. I wasn’t expecting that.

      1. Even the mums of these two babies pictured above are saying they can’t belive the change!

  10. Congratulations on the new book, Catriona! I love babies. I’m in a bit of a draught as the nieces and nephews are grown, but not having their own children yet. I am a bit of a baby whisperer, and love holding them. Missing out on 3 babies because of the pandemic–ARGH.

    1. The second wave will come and then you’ll have to breathe through being Great Aunt Julie!

    1. See I think there’s a bit where puppies and kittens are pre-cute: when they look not quite done yet, before they fluff up. But babies? Day one.

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