I was about to congratulate noted cozy author (and past Sisters in Crime president) Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) on her latest Key West mystery when it hit me … it’s set in Scotland? Yes, with A Scone of Contention this sweet food-oriented series is taking a trip, making for a lovely vacation when so many of us are still stuck at home. So we asked:

What is behind the pivot to Scotland?

As I was thinking about how explain why I set a Key West mystery (#11, A Scone of Contention) in Scotland, I unearthed these emails that I’d written to my editor (at Crooked Lane) and my agent in August 2019.

LUCY: Having turned in book 10, I’m starting to noodle ideas on the next food critic book. I’ve set up The Key Lime Crime so that some of the characters could travel to Scotland, at least for part of the book. (This will be Hayley and Nathan’s delayed honeymoon to visit Nathan’s sister, though a few other favorite characters would horn into the trip.) Before I get too far down that road, I wanted to run the idea by you and make sure it works from your perspective. I think I could start and end the book in Key West so that familiar and expected setting would not be missing.

MATT THE EDITOR: I think that you’re going to be all right with that idea. I normally steer people towards economies of space and time (i.e. stay close to home), but now that you are 11 books deep into this series, I think you should feel free to move around a little bit. Starting and ending the book in Key West definitely helps out. It’s a smart choice.

PAIGE THE AGENT: I think Matt has already chimed in but as long as it begins and ends in Key West and a bunch of the gang is there (ie, the real community ) then it could work. There may be backlash from readers who do want that whole KEY WEST experience, but that’s okay. Another option is to just have the honeymoon take place in half the book. Just a thought!

This is me, Lucy, again. So I went ahead with the Scotland idea, as my husband John and I and a couple of my dearest friends and relations had spent two weeks in Scotland earlier that summer. I was a little stumped about what I could find new about Key West after 10 books in a row. And I suspected that this change could be good for me as a writer. And then the pandemic blanketed the world the following spring. I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to be away from that scary reality, spending time in my head back in Scotland. And I’ve been delighted to find myself full of ideas and enthusiasm as I write book #12 (back in Key West.)

 I’ve heard that a few people would have preferred that my characters stay on their little island, but I sure hope on balance that most people will love the trip to Scotland. In Scone, I whittled down the travelers list to include Nathan and Hayley, Miss Gloria, and Nathan’s mother, and they are all staying with his sister and her husband. I’ve had a few complaints asking what kind of honeymoon this is? LOL! I can only say that Hayley Snow understands perfectly the meaning and importance of family.

Have you traveled with a familiar series to a new setting? How did you like the change? 

New Jersey-born Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib is the author of 19 mysteries, including A Scone of Contention, the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow (out TODAY!). Bronze medal-winning The Key Lime Crime is the tenth book in her Key West food critic mystery series. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime, and currently serving as president of the Friends of the Key West Library.

A Scone of Contention (Book 11 in the Key West food critic mystery series)

A murderer’s out to spoil Hayley’s honeymoon in national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s eleventh Key West Food Critic Mystery.

Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow and her groom, police detective Nathan Bransford, chose Scotland for their long-delayed honeymoon, hoping to sightsee and enjoy prize-winning scones. But their romantic duo swells to a crowd when they’re joined by Nathan’s family as well as octogenarian Miss Gloria. 

Nathan’s sister Vera takes the women on a whirlwind tour of some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places as research for a looming book project. But the trip takes a deadly tartan turn when a dinner party guest falls ill and claims she was poisoned. And then the group watches in horror as a mysterious tourist tumbles to his death from the famous Falkirk Wheel, high above the Forth & Clyde canal. 

Vera and her friends deny knowing the dead man, but after observing their reactions to the fall, Hayley is not convinced. With one person dead, a second possibly poisoned, and the tension among Vera’s friends as thick as farmhouse cheese, Hayley fears her long-awaited honeymoon might end with another murder. 

Far away from home, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, eccentric characters, and a forbiddingly gorgeous setting, Hayley must call on all her savvy to keep a killer from striking again and then escaping Scot free.