Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview Cozy Culinary Mystery

RosepointPub Crawl I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five StarsFive Stars

 Book Blurb:

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMaggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

My Review:

It’s nearing Halloween and Maggie Crozat and her parents, owner of the Cajun Country B&B, are gearing up along with the other B&Bs in Pelican, Louisiana to provide holiday specials along with festivities appropriate to the spooky, ghouly, and darker time of year. Maggie and the B&B community is working hard against Gavin Grody, better known for an agenda he calls, “Rent My Digs” as his endeavor has impacted their normally successful seasons, being one hour from New Orleans.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronThey are promoting all manner of activities, including a play they are holding in an ancient graveyard, Cajun food in typical Louisiana amenities, and a pet parade. They will also have readings from a local VooDoo priestess, Helene, and Maggie has created a spa on her premises that she is hoping will be a major draw along with the masseuse she is bringing in–a remotely related cousin she has never met.

Her cousin, Susannah, brings her husband Doug and his twins. She outfitted her art studio in the old schoolhouse for the family and began to set appointments. Unfortunately, sightings been made of a rougarou, an old Cajun creature legend. Susannah announces her land runs through the schoolhouse making Maggie and the Crozat’s the obvious suspects of what is quickly assessed a murder.

Of course, her own Pelican PD doesn’t believe they would be involved. It is the neighboring jurisdiction that smells an easy solve and the murder happened there, so Maggie and clan will have to go looking to find the killer. In the meantime, her Grandmeré is becoming a bridezilla as she is planning a wedding with Maggie and her beau, Detective Bo Durand of their precinct. He has a young son, Xander who is looking forward to Halloween and planning his costume with the same fervor as her Gran the wedding.

I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling, which is always well-plotted and easy paced, with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality. One of her guests has a parrot that often enlivens and entertains the others. The family melds easily as an enviable tight, happy clan, the occasion is atmospheric, and there are always tidbits of Louisiana Cajun folklore and culture, foods, descriptions of the land and people.

“In Louisiana…We only follow the rules we like.”

If I didn’t remember that humidity and those bugs so well, I’d be packing to head south.

The casual road to the conclusion sneaks up on you, as do the perps in the final reveal. I had my eye on one or two others, but was wrong and that doesn’t often happen. There is an explanation of particular custom or word origins and then the recipes. If I remember right it was after I read Fatal Cajun Festival that I ran out and bought ingredients for a Jambalaya. (I do love shrimp.) This novel includes more than one I’ll try (if I’m ever allowed to go grocery shopping again).

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review Book 6. Engaging and entertaining, I greatly enjoy this author’s writing style, both this series and her new one, Catering Hall Mysteries (Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico). If you haven’t yet discovered her books, now is the time. Highly recommended!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H3BT6F
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint recommended

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: [Ellen Byron] Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel. Also writes the Catering Hall Mysteries (HERE COMES THE BODY, #1) as Maria DiRico.

Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. 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, debuted under her pen name, Maria DiRico.

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.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. 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 will launch in March 2020 under the name Maria DiRico.

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.

©2019 V Williams V Williams