Title: Mardi Gras Murder
Series: Cajun Country Mystery
By: Ellen Byron
ISBN: 1683317068 (ISBN13: 9781683317067)
Author’s Website: http://www.ellenbyron.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
It’s Mardi Gras season on the bayou, which means parades, pageantry, and gumbo galore. But when a flood upends life in the tiny town of Pelican, Louisiana—and deposits a body of a stranger behind the Crozat Plantation B&B—the celebration takes a decidedly dark turn. The citizens of Pelican are ready to Laissez les bon temps rouler—but there’s beaucoup bad blood on hand this Mardi Gras.
Maggie Crozat is determined to give the stranger a name and find out why he was murdered. The post-flood recovery has delayed the opening of a controversial exhibit about the little-known Louisiana Orphan Train. And when a judge for the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant is shot, Maggie’s convinced the murder is connected to the body on the bayou. Does someone covet the pageant queen crown enough to kill for it? Could the deaths be related to the Orphan Train, which delivered its last charges to Louisiana in 1929? The leads are thin on this Fat Tuesday—and until the killer is unmasked, no one in Pelican is safe.
A simmering gumbo of a humorous whodunit, Mardi Gras Murder is the fourth piquant installment in USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s award-winning Cajun Country mysteries. (Goodreads)
Ellen Byron’s Mardi Gras Murder is the fourth installment of the Cajun Country Mystery series and my first encounter with Ms. Byron’s writing. I am happy to report that this “new to me” mystery series checks all of my requisite boxes: interesting characters and plot, mystery kept me guessing until the end, a bit of a romantic relationship developing for the main amateur sleuth and humourous characters to keep me chuckling. I quite enjoyed that every once in a while, there were French sayings thrown in, especially since this reviewer is from a bilingual country (Canada – where the official languages are English and French).
This tale begins with Maggie Crozat working hard at the family B and B, presently closed to paying guests, so that the family could house locals whose homes are under siege by flooding of the mighty Mississippi. The flooding has also brought upon the small town of Pelican, Louisiana a body. Who has died and why is he in Pelican? With questions like that, Maggie cannot help but get involved. As I have come to learn about cozies…. seems like many of the amateur sleuths are dating (or want to be) a police detective. And Mardi Gras Murder is no exception as Maggie’s boyfriend is none other than Pelican Police Department detective Bo Durand.
I love the following snippet of dialogue between Maggie and her beau Bo – it explains so much how Maggie got into the amateur sleuthing (an explanation I certainly have not heard about previously):
“Maggie stared at Bo. “Murdered?”
He nodded. “Shot to death. Which you don’t know, because Perske specifically said not to tell you anything about it.”
“Of course he did.” Being an artist, Maggie possessed a visual acuity that enabled her to pick up clues others had missed in past murder investigations. This thoroughly annoyed the outgoing police chief.”
Musings from Maggie early on in the story:
“What is my weird place in the universe where I’m always the one finding dead bodies? she wondered when she gave up trying to get a decent night’s sleep. It felt like the definition of a rhetorical question.”
There are numerous characters throughout the story, adding a certain amount of depth and knowledge about the townsfolk as well as Louisiana. I wonder – is the depth of the towns passion for Gumbo really a southern “thing”? Regardless – never get between a person and their favourite food dish. The passion definitely came out. Maggie’s dad certainly showed his passion for Gumbo ☺
And as far as wonderful characters go, I absolutely loved Gran. In fact, if it were not for Gran getting sick at the last minute, Maggie would not have had to substitute in as a judge for the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo pageant. And that role certainly lent herself to “investigating”.
There were many potential suspects to weed through. The journey was convoluted at times and at others, it seemed like the most logical suspect was in your face… but then Maggie proved that the suspect was actually no longer a suspect. I must say – I enjoyed being stumped until the end. And actually – stumped for not just one murder, but two!
I also really enjoyed the other sub-stories: the uncovering of a painting underneath a painting, the mystery surrounding the Louisiana Orphan Train exhibit, challenges with the pageant itself. All of this, plus a bit of angst on the romantic front with Maggie and Bo provided a very fulsome read.
The cover art was eye catching as well. Having looked at the cover art for the other books in the series – I noted the consistent picture of Gopher, the family’s basset hound rescue. Gotta love a book with a dog (or really cute cat I suppose).
I have now put the prior three books in the series on that ever growing TBR pile along with book 5 – Fatal Cajun Festival, expected out in September 2019.