Having just finished reading Plantation Shudders, I can see why her cozy mystery debut got such rave reviews! Ellen knocks it out of the ballpark with this charming mystery set in Louisiana Cajun country.
Her characters and settings are excellently portrayed down to the last detail. I loved the folklore, the southern atmosphere and, of course, the Cajun cuisine that had me hankering for some gumbo and crawfish.
At the end of summer, Maggie Crozat has returned home to her family’s plantation turned into a bed and breakfast. The Inn is packed with a colorful assortment of guests who are anxious to experience the history of the area by taking the local tours and chowing down at the food festival.
When two of her guests keel over dead within minutes of each other right there in the inn, forget the shrimp gumbo – there’s murder on the menu! With all the inn’s guests as suspects (and even a few outsiders), things get more than tense. It appears a lot of the guests are hiding secrets, and when Maggie’s Gran and some of her friends become suspects, she’s persistent in her quest to flush out the culprit.
Police Chief Rufus Durand is a totally unlikeable guy. He may be a decent law enforcement officer, but has no problem showing his disdain for the Crozat family. Enter Bo Durand, a relative of the chief, and Maggie suddenly feels that the whole world is against her family.
But as time goes by, the murder investigation picks up speed. It looks like handsome Bo might actually be a more level-headed, sensitive guy than his crummy cousin. Ellen has her hands full with trying to appease her guests and keep them from checking out early, plus she’s juggling meals, cooking, cleaning and – oh yeah – solving that pesky double murder of her guests!
Things go from bad to worse, but with the help of her coz, friends, parents and the rather handsome Bo Durand, she’s not stopping until the case is solved and the good name of the Crozat’s bed and breakfast is restored.
Plantation Shudders will have you wanting more of this series (and also some oyster ‘po boys, biscuits, and other traditional southern dishes). Great mystery, can’t wait to read the other two in this series: The Body on the Bayou and A Cajun Christmas Killing.
*Ellen Byron: television writer, playwright and freelance journalist. TV credits include Wings, Still Standing and Just Shoot Me. I briefly met Ellen at last year’s Malice Domestic book signing. She’s outgoing, charming and bubbly – just like her books!
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