Monday, January 2, 2012

In the Cards

By Guest Blogger Lucy Burdette

I’m not a big believer in fortune-telling, palm-reading, tarot cards or any other methods of calling the future. Still every once in a while I can’t resist a peek. Because who really knows. Right?

A couple of years ago, a tarot card reader set up in a local coffee shop in our town. So I went down to meet her. I can’t say I learned anything earthshaking, but the experience got me thinking about why a character might rely on reading tarot cards. (Mostly in the case of Hayley Snow, her mother relies on tarot cards. And she’d much rather get her cards read than go to psychotherapy!) And those ideas led to a wonderful, recurring character in my Key West food critic mystery series.

Every night in Key West, to celebrate the sunset, street performers and tourists gather in Mallory Square. One of the regulars is Ron, a tarot card reader. As you can see, he dresses the part—of course I couldn’t resist a reading. And I couldn’t resist developing a character who looks and acts like him in AN APPETITE FOR MURDER (which is out tomorrow by the way from NAL/Obsidian—yippee!)

Here’s my main character, Hayley Snow, making a visit to Lorenzo. She’s just heard about the murder of an ex-boyfriend’s new flame:

“Lorenzo was there without any customers, shuffling his cards and looking pensive. Probably wondering what kind of dinner was in his future.
I slid into the chair across from him and handed over a crumpled twenty-dollar bill. Some people go to therapy every week, I get my cards read. A tarot reader saved my mother’s sanity when I was a kid—not psychiatry. So consulting the cards felt natural. Mom has long since moved on to doing her own readings, but for me, Lorenzo’s insights are like training wheels still welded to my psyche.
          “Back again,” Lorenzo said, smiling under that goofy mustache. “Another crisis?”
          He has proven to be very big on that old saw “crisis equals opportunity,” even in the short time I’d known him. He had to be an optimist, taking money from all those tourists and then giving life direction, night after balmy night.
          “The universe seems a little crazy right now,” I said. “I’d like to get your opinion.”
          He had me sterilize my hands with a witch hazel spritzer and cut his deck of oversized, colorful cards, sticky with age and use. Then he laid out the first row, placing a metal lizard on top so they wouldn’t blow away: the Chariot, reversed, the Five of Pentacles, and the Eight of Swords.
“Hmmm,” he said, his brow creasing into the biggest worry lines I’d ever seen him wear. “You may be pulled in many directions…self-sabotage…a feeling of neediness? Seems like you’re feeling a little out of control?”
          “Tell me something I don’t know,” I said, leaning in closer to the cards.

          Now I’m looking forward to weaving Lorenzo into all the books. And my sister gave me my own pack of tarot cards to study as I write. And, should I need one more way to procrastinate, I can get a free three-card reading every day for me, or for Hayley. And here’s the link for you:

How about you all? Any tarot card believers out there? And even if not, do you mind a touch of supernatural in the books you read?
Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, debuting January 3 with AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. Read more at her website,, or visit her on  or on or on her group blog,


Aurian said...

Hi Lucy, congrats on the new release, and it sure sounds great. Yes, I do believe in tarot readings, I regularly have one or two each year. I also like paranormal touches in cozy mysteries a lot, so your book made my wishlist immediately.

Lucy Burdette said...

Thanks so much Aurian. And hope 2012 is a terrific year for you!

Ramona said...

I love the witch hazel spritzer! What a great detail. I have never had a tarot card reading. Now I am curious.

Looking forward to this new series. Best of luck, Lucy!

Lucy Burdette said...

Hey Ramona, thanks! The truth is, I carry one of those spritzers with me everywhere I go. It embarrasses my husband to death when I squirt our hands out in public, but hey, I'm neurotic about cold germs! And when I went for my first ever tarot reading, the woman did have me wash up with Purell before shuffling the cards. You remember things like that!

Ruth McCarty said...

Hi, Lucy. I've always wanted to have my cards read. My niece had her palm read by a woman who wrote everything she said down, and it was amazing hat she got right.

I can' wait to read AN APPETITE FOR MURDER!

Leann Sweeney said...

I am with a few others. My logical mind says,"tarot cards are ridiculous" but that doesn't stop me from wanting a reading! What the heck????

Lucy Burdette said...

You all might like to read "Confessions of a Tarot Card Reader" by Jane Stern of RoadFood fame. completely fascinating!

Dru said...

Congratulations on your new release!

I don't mind light paranormal in my's the dark one I don't like.

I'm scared to have any readings, but I do want one.

Pj Schott said...

I love Lucy!!

Lucy Burdette said...

Thank you Dru and PJ!

Funny thing is, I never even thought of this as paranormal--just Hayley getting a tarot card reading! It is a little bit scary--especially after reading Jane's book. She says she would never hide what she sees.

But do try the 3-card link I gave you--that's fun!

Linda McDonald said...

I love the excerpt. I'm not quite sure I believe in tarot cards, fortune telling, etc, but I love to read about it. I love having those types of things in the novels I read. Brings an element of fun, and always makes for a fun character to read about.

Heather Blake Webber said...

Congrats on the new book, Lucy. I love the sounds of Lorenzo. I'd read it just for him! I'm a sucker for paranormal.

Vickie said...

I can't wait to read your new book. It's on pre-order.

I do believe in palmistry and tarot to a point. As for books, there is quite a lot of paranormal on my Mt Git'r'Read in cozies, urban fantasy and other mysteries.

Find Your Fate said...

I read that book Lucy

Kelly Boyer Sagert said...

I don't have cards read, etc., but I enjoy light paranormal touches in mysteries when it's well done . . .

Lucy Burdette said...

Thanks again for having me as a guest on the cozy chicks!


Mish said...

I was interested in reading this book, but now that there is some paranormal things involved, this will be top of my list. I love all things paranormal!