by Ellen Byron
Genre: Cozy Mystery
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0
Check in for some Southern hospitality in Plantation Shudders, the Cajun Country series debut from Ellen Byron.
It's the end of the summer and Prodigal Daughter Maggie Crozat has returned home to her family's plantation-turned-bed-and-breakfast in Louisiana. The Crozats have an inn full of guests for the local food festival—elderly honeymooners, the Cajun Cuties, a mysterious stranger from Texas, a couple of hipster lovebirds, and a trio of Georgia frat boys. But when the elderly couple keels over dead within minutes of each other - one from very unnatural causes - Maggie and her family suddenly become suspects in a murder.
With the help of Bo Durand, the town's handsome new detective, Maggie must investigate to clear her name while holding the family business together at the same time. And the deeper she digs, the more she wonders: are all of the guests really there for a vacation or do they have ulterior motives? Decades-old secrets and stunning revelations abound in Ellen Byron’s charming cozy debut, Plantation Shudders.
Maggie Crozat has returned home to help her family run their Louisiana Plantation now turned Bed and Breakfast. She spent a few years in the big city trying to make it on her own until she realized that she didn’t like the feeling of being alone and her family could use her help.
Maggie is with the family to welcome a full inn of guests for the end of summer fete. The guests include a couple of young lovebirds, a family with two young teens, three college boys, a mysterious, handsome, but sad man, and four “Cajun Cuties” who visit plantations to share with their organization. Then the surprisingly elderly, honeymoon latecomers show up. He is a grouch while she is consistently smiley.
Things go astray when the lights flash out. When the fuse is fixed everyone is shocked to find the elderly man dead. Maggie grabs the pills for the Mrs. only to have her collapse dead too. Having dead guests is trouble of its own but it's double trouble that the local Police Chief, Rufus Durand, is a sworn enemy of the family. He is apt to gloat about a murder at Crozat rather than try to solve it.
Maggie is dreading the investigation until she meets the new detective who is handsome and appears competent and thorough. That is good until she learns that he is Bo Durand, cousin to Rufus. Now she figures she will have to uncover the true murderer herself even if it means taking on cleaning duty to sneak into their rooms. Determining the murderer becomes more crucial as the week goes on and another guest is found dead.
The setting is beautiful, complete with bayou, Cajun food and good luck charms. The characters are quirky, with hidden motives. Maggie is a strong, likable heroine and Bo is a great hero with a special son, whose situation is handled nicely. The writing flows well and makes an easy, quick read. The story is told with gracious Southern charm and I enjoyed the mystery and the sweet, slow romance. The recipes shared at the end are a bonus. (I found it amusing that I didn’t get the title, “shudders” until I started reading the book.) I recommend this to readers who enjoy a fun, cozy mystery.
I selected this through NetGalley. It is part of my NetGalley Challenge.