Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron
I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.
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Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisianna
Publisher : Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593437616
ISBN-13 : 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN : B09FPJHVGK
A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.
Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.
Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.
The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.
Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?
It’s difficult to leave an old favorite like the Cajun Country Mystery series behind when the author pulls the plug and begins a new series.
But if we must, at least we get to enjoy her new series set in Louisiana, as the author favors us with the sounds, scents, and majesty that is the local mystic of New Orleans.
Ricki (Miracle Fleur di Lis James-Diaz) has returned to New Orleans where she was born after suffering the loss of her husband and a scandalous end to a job n LA in which she was a naïve and innocent pawn.
She has landed a position with the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum where she creates a gift shop containing vintage cookbooks and kitchenware. Unfortunately, a trunk containing a donation of vintage cookbooks turns out to contain a body instead. The body is that of a former Bon Vee employee fired for being a book thief and all-round scoundrel.
Becoming a little put off by the local detective, Ricki begins using her tracking skills to investigate on her own.
“NOPD stands for ‘Not Our Problem, Dude.’”
Ricki is a smart woman, although deemed less than confident after her recent losses, and treads lightly. There are some wonderfully diverse support characters, from Madame to Lyla and Cookie, the latter “a recovering children’s librarian.”
Little sub-plots or threads take the story in different directions and introduce the reader to some interesting practices in the book world. Lyla becomes a suspect, but then there are several lesser characters also vying for the position and it’s difficult to nail down who among them has the greater reason for offing not one, but a second, victim. Ricki’s imagination tends to go wild with motives most of which are tossed immediately.
The red herrings were narrowed and fed into the conclusion, which settled most of any loose threads remaining, and I must admit I was surprised by the culprit. As in most cozy mysteries, there is a fostering romance and one big thread strongly hinted that will be carried forward. It’s a douzy.
Also, as in many cozy mysteries, appropriate recipes, in this case vintage southern recipes are shared after the epilogue with this note that gave me a chuckle:
“Onions, celery, and peppers are affectionately known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun and Creole cooking.”
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About The Author: Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.
Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/
Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!
©2022 V Williams