“Try is a fail word…Because it gives you an out.”
The next shot from Cupid’s bow may be fatal in USA Today bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s hearty and delightful seventh Cajun Country mystery.
In Pelican, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day has a way of warming the heart, despite the February chill. But the air at Crozat Plantation B&B turns decidedly frigid when celebrity chef Phillippe Chanson checks in. And when the arrogant Phillippe–in town to open his newest Cajun-themed restaurant–perishes in a fiery boat crash, Maggie Crozat’s dear friend JJ lands in very cold water.
Did JJ, proprietor of Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, murder Phillippe because he feared the competition? Might Maggie’s mother, Ninette, have bumped off the chef for stealing one of her cherished recipes? Or was the culprit a local seafood vendor, miffed because Phillippe was somehow able to sell oysters for a remarkably reasonable price, despite an oyster shortage?
Maggie had planned to devote her February to art lessons in New Orleans, a present from her sweetheart, Bo. But now she has to focus on helping her friend and her mother cross a murder charge off the menu. Meanwhile, Maggie receives a series of anonymous gifts that begin as charming but grow increasingly disturbing. Does Maggie have an admirer–or a stalker? And are these mysterious gifts somehow related to Phillippe’s murder?
Blood may be thicker than water, but this case is thicker than gumbo. And solving it will determine whether Maggie gets hearts and roses–or hearse and lilies–this Valentine’s Day.
Book 7, rumored to be the last in the series, begins a multi-layered plot with plans for Valentine’s Day. It’s Pelican, Louisiana, near New Orleans and Pelican has a new Cajun themed restaurant to celebrate—until it’s arrogant owner dies in a fiery boat crash. Well, come on, the man was stealing old family recipes and he made more enemies than friends, so the suspect list isn’t short.
Gran got married about the same time Maggie Crozant married her policeman beau, Bo and she is knee deep in fundraising plans that includes a lively senior participation. Bo got her art lessons in New Orleans—she is an artist or thought she was—but is this really going to work? The teacher doesn’t really appreciate any of her stuff.
And then there is her stalker. Shopping for gowns. And another death. Good grief—so many issues.
I enjoy the atmospheric description that puts you right into the middle of the culture. She has her family and the business, Bo is a detective, and there are a lot of peripheral characters, names swapped back and forth. The author infuses her narratives with a sense of humor and the delicious fragrances of the local dishes.
“Like the saying goes, worry is paying interest on a debt you may not owe.”
So I’m not sure why this one didn’t quite click with me. It was slow moving and filled with the minutia of daily life, the struggles, the southern philosophies of life. The mystery was there, just not quite at the forefront, suspense was lacking, and the ending was an obvious wrap. I’ve read two others in this series, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard and Fatal Cajun Festival and loved both but this one fell short for me.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars
Genre: Southern United States Fiction, Southern Fiction, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
- ASIN : B08N6SMX1J
Print Length: 329 pages
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries and Catering Hall Mysteries (under the pen name Maria DiRico). MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries, is inspired by her real life. LONG ISLAND ICED TINA, the second in the series, recently launched, with both books in the series garnering great reviews.
Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.
©2021 V Williams –