Florida’s Hidden Treasures Part 1

By now, you know that I love Florida. I know, I know— who doesn’t? But bear with me. I’m not talking only about Disney World and the beaches. As a mystery writer, I try to peer into the darker side of Florida’s history, which is part of the intrigue!

You know I love reading a book on a warm beach, which is why my Hunt for Justice Mystery Series is set in the Sunshine State. Judge Willa Carson has a beautiful home on Plant Key, but it’s hard to keep her inside for long.

It’s not only my love for the weather here that compels me to set a lot of my books here. It’s the rich history. And, there’s something about the contrast between the beautiful weather and mystery that makes stories more compelling, I think. Murder in Paradise is a tantalizing theme. Don’t you agree?

In Night Justice Judge Willa Carson kills a man. Or did she? Driving home after a long and exhausting work week, Judge Willa Carson is horrified when she hits a man with her car.

Famous Restaurant Owner’s Wife Kills Pedestrian is the top click bait headline for every citizen journalist with a smartphone video looking to make it big on social media. But is it true?

This week we’ll be looking into the rich history one of Florida’s hidden gems! Have you heard of Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West? It might appear to be your average local pub from the outside, but don’t be fooled! This Saloon has hosted many famous people, including Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffet and Tennessee Williams. Oh — and me! I haven’t set a book on Key West yet, but I will one day. 

Image courtesy of Capttonysaloon.com 

The building was initially constructed in 1851 to serve as the first morgue and ice house in the Key West. The Saloon is also known for the “Hanging Tree” that is in the middle of the bar, growing right through the roof! The infamous tree was used in the lynching of sixteen pirates. Renovation during the 1980s resulted in the discovery of over eight skeletons. A grave for a young woman named Elvira was also found and it can be seen in what is now the Saloon’s pool room.

Throughout its long colorful history, the building was used as a cigar factory and then as an illicit speakeasy that served as a bootleg distributor of rum. In the 1930s it became an eatery called Sloppy Joe’s that was made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s frequent attendance.

Image courtesy of Capttonysaloon.com 

Today Captain Tony’s Saloon offers a selection of Pirate Punches that can be enjoyed in the unique surroundings, often accompanied by live music. The walls are covered with dollar bills, license plates, and other paraphernalia reminiscent of the Saloon’s namesake, Captain Tony, who was the former Mayor of Key West and had earned a wild reputation for his success as a boat captain and casino operator.

Do you have any hidden local gems that fly “under the radar” where you live?

If you like to read a twisty, clever “who done it” that will have you scratching your head until the end is revealed, Night Justice and Judge Willa Carson are for you! Buy Night Justice HERE.

Meanwhile —

Caffeinate and Carry On!

Diane Capri

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