The next shot from Cupid’s bow may be fatal in USA Today bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s hearty and delightful seventh Cajun Country mystery.
In Pelican, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day has a way of warming the heart, despite the February chill. But the air at Crozat Plantation B&B turns decidedly frigid when celebrity chef Phillippe Chanson checks in. And when the arrogant Phillippe–in town to open his newest Cajun-themed restaurant–perishes in a fiery boat crash, Maggie Crozat’s dear friend JJ lands in very cold water.
Did JJ, proprietor of Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, murder Phillippe because he feared the competition? Might Maggie’s mother, Ninette, have bumped off the chef for stealing one of her cherished recipes? Or was the culprit a local seafood vendor, miffed because Phillippe was somehow able to sell oysters for a remarkably reasonable price, despite an oyster shortage?
Maggie had planned to devote her February to art lessons in New Orleans, a present from her sweetheart, Bo. But now she has to focus on helping her friend and her mother cross a murder charge off the menu. Meanwhile, Maggie receives a series of anonymous gifts that begin as charming but grow increasingly disturbing. Does Maggie have an admirer–or a stalker? And are these mysterious gifts somehow related to Phillippe’s murder?
Blood may be thicker than water, but this case is thicker than gumbo. And solving it will determine whether Maggie gets hearts and roses–or hearse and lilies–this Valentine’s Day.
With a Lousiana setting, it's no surprise that the mystery involves food and celebrations, even if it's not in New Orleans proper. The big question is whether some famous chef can out cook the local restaurant run by JJ (and put JJ out of business). With Philippe Chanson romancing one of his sous chefs while still in partnership with his ex-wife, adds another layer of intrigue and then Philippe is murdered. And they're all staying at the bed'n breakfast run by Maggie and her family. As the story heats up, with JJ's closed and Chanson found to be stealing recipes from many, Maggie barely has time to think about the mysterious gifts arriving and not from her husband, Bo.
The Cajun flavor is delightful and the pace is steady. It's not quite clear how the Valentine's countdown plays into the murder until the end. Nor is it clear how the guy Maggie dated a few times is involved. I liked the characters I was supposed to like and I wasn't too unhappy or surprised when Philippe was killed. There are plenty of surprises, right to the very end.
This is the seventh in the series, but I haven't read the whole series. It was easily read as a stand alone and I enjoyed the mysteries and celebrating Maggie and Bo's first Valentine's Day as husband and wife.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
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