Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Gran, Maggie, and the rest of the cast
Cons: Mostly strong plot does slow down a time or two
The Bottom Line:
Old newlyweds die
Kicking off this new series
Settle in, enjoy
Nothing to Shudder About with This Debut
While I always pay attention to the Agatha Award nominees, I don’t always wind up reading the books. This year, I am determined to fix that and read the ones that sound good to me, which is how I picked up Plantation Shudders from the library. This is the debut mystery from author Ellen Bryon, and she is off to a great start.
Maggie Crozat has returned to her home in Louisiana. And it’s not just any home but Crozat Plantation, which has been in the family for generations. In an effort to keep the property, her parents run it as a bed and breakfast. Late summer is their busy season as people come to a local festival in the nearby town of Pelican trying to get in one last trip before fall.
This year is no exception, and the B and B is completely booked with everyone from three frat boys, a family from Australia, and some newlyweds among others. It turns out the newlyweds are actually senior citizens, and they are not at all pleasant to be around. Maggie is dreading putting up with them for a week until they both drop dead within minutes of each other. Shock turns to horror when the police determine that one of them was murdered. With a local police chief who has a personal grudge against Maggie’s family, she knows she will have to find the killer. But can she do it?
The set up for this mystery is wonderful, and it kept me guessing until the end. I did feel that the plot dragged a time or two along the way to the climax, but it definitely picked up as we neared the end. The clues were all there and the solution made logical sense. Plus the climax was a lot of fun.
And I loved the characters. Maggie has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth, something I definitely identified with. In fact, most of the time her comments were exactly what I was thinking. Sometimes, this can make the character unlikable, but I actually found her more likable as a result. However, my favorite character was Gran. Maggie’s grand’mere was a hoot! Feisty and fierce and unpredictable, I always loved it when she was on the page. And since she is Maggie’s sidekick quite often, we got to see her plenty. The rest of Maggie’s family and friends are equally strong, and I enjoyed them. I did find the suspects a little weak, but that was a minor complaint.
Since this is a bed and breakfast, we get several southern style recipes in the back as well. Since Maggie’s family is serving dinner as well as breakfast, these three recipes cover a wide variety including Crawfish Crozat, Chulanes, and a Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding.