Mardi Gras Murder
by Ellen Byron
Mardi Gras Murder takes place in Pelican, Louisiana, as the townsfolk work together to recover from flooding. Maggie Crozat is an artist who works at her family’s B & B as well as a tour guide at Doucet, the plantation that belonged to her mother’s family. The story starts with action as a body no one can identify shows up during the cleanup, but the author, Ellen Byron, also very quickly gives a background introducing many of the characters. It is fortunate that Byron includes a list of characters because I had to refer back to it may times. Families and lineage are very important in determining status in Louisiana, and it seems like everyone is related to or at least knows everyone else in Pelican.
The plot gets complicated as Maggie has to substitute for her grandmother as a judge in the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen competition, there is another murder, and Maggie uncovers a lot of local secrets. The storyline is interesting, and I enjoyed the Louisiana setting and a generous sprinkling of Cajun French dialogue. It was also fun to read about the local cuisine, frequently leading me to the Internet for personal searches to learn more. Gopher, a Bassett hound pictured on the cover, attracted me to the book, but he has only a minor presence. All in all, Mardi Gras Murder is an enjoyable read.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #4 in the Cajun Country Mystery Series. There are a LOT of characters in this book, but the author seems aware of potential issues and manages them well. This was my first foray into the series, but I enjoyed it.
2. A detail that makes a fun side story, but is inaccurate: A cast iron pot used for the gumbo cook-off had been passed down the family line. The seasoning that had accumulated over the years was supposedly ruined when some dogs licked it. Actually “seasoning” does not affect the flavor of foods cooked in the pot. Seasoning makes it nonstick and prevents rusting. The well-seasoned, prized pot need not have been discarded. A simple hand washing, heating to dry, and wiping with lard or oil would have restored the pot quite satisfactorily.
Publication: October 9, 2018— Crooked Lane Books
He made himself sound important, but it came across as someone trying very hard to inflate a small balloon.
“Boy, I had a bad case of SDS back there,” Denise said. She saw the puzzled expression on Maggie’s face. “Southern Door Syndrome, where you take almost as long to say goodbye as you stayed at the party.”
“You know the old cliché, chére. Ninety-nine percent of American families are dysfunctional, and the other one percent is lying about it.”