Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Debut: An Appetite for Murder!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Champagne for everyone! Yes, we know, it’s too early in the day..but then again it’s never too early to celebrate. All the Reds are applauding, cheering, jumping up and down—because our dear Red Lucy has a new book—AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, a Key West food critic mystery--and it’s out today! Can’t wait one more second to have it in your hot little hands? Click here!

And in honor of a An Appetite for Murder, here at Jungle Red we’re also having all kinds of Key West delicacies: conch chowder and fritters and flying fish and margaritas and plantains and sea bass a l’orange (is there such a thing?) and deserts, oh the desserts—frothy chocolate mousse with raspberries, and blood orange soufflé, and of course,….Key Lime Pie! With extra whipped cream, and shaved chocolate, and …

But do let us say—even though our mouths are full--how completely thrilled we are. Lucy (some people call her Roberta, but not where the Key West series is concerned!) is poised to make a huge splash in mystery world with her new series..and you read it here, first!

It’s all about ..well, let Lucy tell it.

First question, Key West! HOW did you pick that? And give us the scoop on this new series.

LUCY BURDETTE: Thank you for all the kind words Hank! My sweet husband and I visited Key West about five years ago and fell in love. The town has so many layers, reaching from the richest of the rich at one end to a significant homeless population on the other. There are folks who were born and raised on the island and lots of others who come to party or who come because they don't quite fit into a traditional lifestyle but find they feel comfortable here. There's a thriving artistic scene, great food, and a fabulous literary history. So when thinking about pitching a new series, Key West was a natural!

The series follows aspiring food critic Hayley Snow, a transplant from New Jersey who's invited to town by a man she barely knows. By the time that relationship sours, Hayley's fallen in love with the island--she'll do anything to stay. Would that include murder? The cops, of course, believe it might.

HANK: Hayley Snow (I love the name..) is a brand new person for you. You've created golfer Cassie Burdette, and psychologist Rebecca Butterman..what's it like to create a compete new person? Kind of fascinating, really, huh? Here's someone who did not exist, not at all, until you brought her to life. I always think about that, with all my characters. Anyway! What is it about Hayley that makes her unique?

LUCY: Great question Hank....but it makes me wonder, maybe these characters
did exist, we just have to carve the excess words away--chip away whatever doesn't fit, like a sculptor works with marble?

HANK: Ah. That's kind of ...cosmic. And when we need them, we just have to figure out where to look? I'll have to think about that. (And it's interesting, too that some characters seem to ping into existence, as if they were just waiting to be found. Others have to be coaxed out. Anyway! Hayley.

LUCY: Yes, Hayley. She arrives in Key West because a man invites her. She barely knows him when she moves to the island, so not a big surprise when the relationship blows up. But then what's a girl to do--return to her mom's guest room in New Jersey? In November? No way! She has to figure out a way to make a new life here on this island--and it has to do with her passion, food.

Working with this new person is so interesting because it's not only Hayley that I have to develop, it's all her friends and neighbors and nemesises (nemesi?) as well. I didn't really have the time to work out all the biographies in advance (and if I'm being perfectly honest, I'd tell you that I wouldn't do that even if I HAD all the time in the world!), so I'm constantly being surprised at how these people evolve.

HANK: Oh, I'm with you. Sometimes I sit at my computer and smile at the magic. Other times..well, other times I could use some PIE! Okay, now, if we're true to your new series, we should have a recipe here.

LUCY: I'm going to cheat a little and give you a link to Emeril Lagasse's Key Lime Pie. You're going to need a piece of Key Lime Pie when you're finished with AN APPETITE FOR MURDER because it's central to the story. I would mail a pie to each of you, but they simply won't hold up well in transit!

HANK: Are you a great cook? The book is so infused with cooking-not just
recipes, but genuinely thoughtful and educated references to the joy of food and eating -how did you get ready for that? Has it changed your life? Next time we go out to dinner-or next time I have you guys over!--should I be afraid?

LUCY: Oh no, please don't be afraid! I'm really an expert eater but not an
intimidating cook. And I'm not big on eating weird stuff--I nix anything with tentacles, for example. Plus entrails and offal and eyes.

HANK: Again, I'm with you. Liver, okay. Snails, yes caviar, yes...but I'm ever wary of calamari when I get the parts with the suckers and tentacles. Oooh. Probably easier (if it ever can be easy...) to write about than actually do..

LUCY: I don't think I'd enjoy being a food critic in real life--have you noticed how often the New York Times food critic position turns over? Looking at that and reading about a critic's life, it seems as though food criticism could eventually ruin the pleasure of eating. And let's face it, when I go to a restaurant I want to order what I want to order, not what I think someone else might want to try.

But I've had so much fun reading about food to get into Hayley's mindset--foodie memoirs, food blogs, fiction chockablock with food, and always, always recipes. Some of my friends are genuine gourmet cooks (Hallie's one of them) so I study how they cook and think about food. However, all the recipes in the book come from me.

HANK: SO, finally, do you look at the world differently now? Has this book changed your life?

LUCY: Don't you think every book changes your life? It's like you've made a whole new set of friends and been somewhere completely new…now I feel like a foodie in paradise!

HANK: Hungry for more? Here’s just a nibble to tempt you..from Chapter 1.

“A hot dog or a truffle. Good is good.” James Beard

Lots of people think they’d love to eat for a living. Me? I’d kill for it.

Which makes sense, coming from my family. FTD told my mother to say it with flowers, but she said it with food. Lost a pet? Your job? Your mind? Life always felt better with a serving of Mom’s braised short ribs or red velvet cake in your belly. In my family, we ate when happy or sad but especially, we ate when we were worried.

The brand new Key Zest magazine in Key West, Florida announced a month ago that they were hiring a food critic for their style section. Since my idea of heaven was eating at restaurants and talking about food, I’d do whatever it took to land the job. Whatever. But three review samples and a paragraph on my proposed style as their new food critic were due on Monday. Six days and counting. So far I had produced nothing. The big goose egg. Call me Hayley Catherine “Procrastination” Snow.

(Read more here.)

HANK: So, dear Reds—let’s talk food today! Did you have anything delicious over the holidays? Any new year’s food traditions? Have you ever actually tried a recipe from a mystery book? And Yay, Lucy!

LUCY: And ps, Hank, I have tried recipes from mysteries--I still remember Diane Mott Davidson's manicotti. And don't they always sound so good???


  1. Reading the book right now and I've tried several recipes that were featured in the mysteries that I read.

  2. Nemesi is my new favorite word. Sounds like the name of a band.

    Best of luck with the new series, Lucy! I sure got hungry reading this.

  3. Isn't the plural of nemesis "nemeses"?

    I want Diane Mott Davidson to put out a cookbook so I don't have to use her actual books any more. She has great recipes, starting with Death by Chocolate.

    I will look for your book, and am sure I'll enjoy it. Love food, love reading about it! Best of luck, Lucy.

  4. Hurray, Lucy!
    Over the holdays, a pal made a lovely fresh berries pavlova with fruit sauce...It was like eating spun sugar. Which, I guess, it is. (Pavolva--sugar and eggwhites, like meringue?)

    off ot work..mmore to come!

  5. Oh, Lucy, I rad and LOVED this book! It so captures the nutty sweetness (food metaphor, of course) of Key West where a street performer actually herds cats, has a great comic voice, all wrapped around a compelling mystery. I am so rooting for Hayley.

    Running off to make MY favorite recipe for Key Lime pie... but I wish I was boarding a plane instead for Key Wet or (next best) had An Appetite for Murder to read again for the first time.

  6. Hey Lucy, I can't wait to get my hands on this book, meet Hayley, and try out your recipes! Key West truly is magical . . .

    I tried two new recipes from Bon Appetit for our Christmas Eve dinner and they were both winners. I love when that happens.

    Best of luck with this new series. I know I'm going to love it!

  7. Thanks everyone! Judy, tell us what you tried???

    Hank, my sister was talking about that same dessert--it seems to be a new trend:). It must taste better than it sounds...

  8. I was just going to ask Judy the same thing..and isn't she brave for experimenting on a holiday!

    Yes, Lucy--it was delicious--but very very very very sweet.

  9. Great post, Hank and Roberta (oops, Lucy). As someone who loves to cook and has a brother who is a fishing guide in Key West, this fits the picture, not mention loving the writing. My TBR list keeps getting taller.

  10. Congratulations, Lucy, on the launch of this new series. I'm looking forward to Hayley's first adventure.

    I love to cook and did a fair bit over the holidays. A seafood lasagne on Christmas Eve was a hit, and this weekend I knocked my own socks off with a slow-cooked dish of chicken with tomatoes, balsamic and chard. The recipe is from Slow Cooker Revolution, a gift from my niece. Can't wait to have the leftovers tonight.

    Again, kudos to you, Lucy, not just on the new book, but for starting a whole new series. It's a big accomplishment. I hope you're basking in the glow today.

  11. I have my book on order and can't wait to read it. I haven't been in the Keys since 1980 and never made it to Key West, but I'll bet I'll be booking a ticket after I read Lucy's book. I don't think I got creative during the holidays, but a friend brought a delicious spicy pumpkin-okra soup for Christmas Eve that was lovely. All this food talk is making me hungry for a mid-morning snack!

  12. So funny about food tastes. I LOVE squid. Cooked any which way. Meringue? Not exactly ICK, but close.

    Lucy, is grouper back on the menus in Key West?

  13. The "Forked Oven Roasted Potatoes", p. 95 and the "Beef Tenderloin with Caesar Crust' p. 103 in the Dec. BON APPETIT. Both were fantastic.

  14. Okay--we kind of agree on meringue.

    We disagree on squid.

    But we MUST agree on Judy's reicpes!! YUM. What is Caesar crust?

  15. Brenda, it's a happy day when the cook knocks her own socks off! what went into the slow cooker?

    Cassie and Edith, thank you and hope you enjoy!!

  16. Raising my champagne glass to you, Lucy and wishing you every success with the new series!

  17. Hank, think Caesar salad . . . without the lettuce. Fresh bread crumbs, mayo, garlic, dijon, anchovies . . .

    And the potatoes were amazing--my family was still talking about them the next day.

  18. Hurrah for Lucy! Here's hoping everyone who gets to vacation in the sunny southernmost portion of the US buys AN APPETITE FOR MURDER to get the inside story on Key West (and its culinary creations.) And here's hoping the rest of us who are stuck in the frigid (albeit snow-free) North buy it for a little mental holiday as well.

  19. Oh . . . I am so afraid to read a good book with descriptions of food! It soaks my brain. I sweat meringue. Dueling Ho Hos.

    Hank, I'm with you on the tentacle things. Some nice person at The Dolphin brought me a plate of cute little crispy round things to try. I thought they were baby onion rings. "Oh, how cute. Thank you." Gaaaaaah!

    I once made clam hash when Spenser cooked it for Susan in one of Robert B. Parker's books. I'd never heard of it before. I was the only poor girl growing up in Marblehead, so I figured that was why. Must be a recipe from that yacht club across the harbor.

    Auntie-Mom never heard of clam hash, either, "Oh, I don't know, Reinie. I only make escaloped clams. Or clam fritters. Or blueberry fritters. Or maple walnut fudge. Or Indian Pudding . . . clam hash? Where did it come from? It's not from around here. Must be a south shore thing, Reinie."

  20. I love all the food in Lucy's book--I dream of those wonderful tacos, and crab cakes, and the Leaning Tower of Eggplant! And I envy enormously Hayley's ability to whip up something simple and delicious at the drop of a hat--and while dealing with being suspected of murder!

    Oh, now I'm hungry, and it's not lunchtime yet...

    Not too big on meringues, except these wonderful ones they make at Whole Foods Market in London, served with fresh English cream and fresh English strawberries.

    Will happily eat calamari, tentacles and all. Have never tried octopus, however, so maybe I have another adventure in store!

  21. Hey Lucy,

    From memory, as Slow Cooker Revolution is at home:

    Saute shallots and garlic, when they're nice and brown add a tablespoon or so of tomato paste and some minced anchovies. Give it another minute then add to the saute pan about a half cup of balsamic, cook for 30 seconds, scrape up the good stuff, dump in slow cooker, add some diced tomatoes, chicken broth, red wine, then skinned chicken thighs. Cook about 5 hours on low, then open the lid and put in washed/stemmed chard. Cook on high for about another half hour. Serve over polenta. Amazing.

  22. Haven't recieved my copy yet but if rhys is raising a glass of chapgne, I'll raise a Skinny Girl Margarita to Lucy and Hayley!

    (My word verification is cardew, which is a misspelling of a fine Scotch. Maybe I should be toasting you with that!)

  23. thanks Ro, I don't care what's in the glass, just happy to have something to toast and friends to toast it with!

  24. What's a skinny girl margarita?

    (My word is chirrhi, which sounds like a delicious tidbit to eat whith ones margarita.)

  25. Ro, Cardhu Distillery was used in the cover art of my book set in and and around the Highland distilleries, Now May You Weep. Glad to know others are fans of such a lovely Scotch!

  26. Lucy! Congratulations. I'm raising a glass to you in honor of the debut of your new series. Can't wait to see/taste your mysterious culinary delights. I love a tasty mystery.

    Christmas found me putting turkey breast and chicken parts in brine before roasting. Big success. 1st time I tried that. Then I pulled together 3 recipes plus inspiration for a stuffing (i.e., stuffed into a casserole dish) of wholewheat/corn bread/apples/walnuts. The biggest hit was the easy mango & apple chutney, again culled from several recipes plus "refrigerator pot luck."

    Thanks, Brenda, for the description of your balsamic start to slow cooker dish with chard. I'll make a vegetarian version, as I'm restricted on meat to make up for the holidays.

    Oh! You have me dreaming of Key lime pie. Yum. Just a sliver, I'm on a happy diet.

  27. Lucy(Although thanks to your other two series, I have always thought of you as Roberta:-)
    I haven't even read the new book yet and I already want to go to Key West! I was introduced to Key Lime Pie on my one and only trip to FL around thirty years ago. I had it on Sanibel Island. YUM! I made it almost as soon as I got home, but it was not the same.

    I like making desserts/cookies/breads that I get from recipes in mysteries. When someone asks me where I got a particular recipe, I love to watch their face when I say "from a mystery I read"; then I pause, and say "don't worry; nobody was poisoned!" (Of course, that isn't always true!)

  28. Lucy, wishing you the best with this! It looks beautiful.

  29. Reine,

    Forgot to mention earlier that I've always wanted to try clam hash. So you got the recipe from one of Parker's books? I may have to check it out!

  30. Hi Deb,

    As I recall it wasn't really a recipe. Spenser was making it for Sunday(?) breakfast with Susan. It sounded wonderful. Makes a great brunch with tomato drinkies.

  31. YOu know how much I love you. But clam hash will never pass these lips.