Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery
The Bottom Line:
Maggie’s family, friends suspects
Southern Christmas cheer
Will the Bonfires Light the Way to a Killer?
As I have said time and time again, I read to be entertained. However, if I can learn something new along the way, I don’t complain at all. What I don’t know about Louisiana fills volumes, but I get glimpses into some of their unique traditions via Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country Mysteries. That’s the case once again with A Cajun Christmas Killing.
The book actually opens with a tradition I was not familiar with, bonfires. Each year, people build elaborate bonfires along the Mississippi River that they set off on Christmas Eve. Maggie Crozat’s family is no different, although her father, Tug, has decided to scale things back this year. Still, he and some friends are working on it when he collapses. The diagnosis is stress induced high blood pressure, and he has good reason for it. Someone is out to sabotage the Crozat family bed and breakfast, a business they’ve built out of the family’s plantation.
As negative reviews begin to appear on travel websites, Maggie learns that a businessman is trying to take over the family’s plantation. When that man turns up dead, naturally Maggie and her family find themselves on the suspect list. However, even Maggie’s boyfriend, detective Bo Durand is a suspect. With more suspects popping up every day, can Maggie and an officially sidelined Bo figure out what is really going on?
Before the murder happens, the focus had been on what the victim was doing to Maggie and her family, but as the book goes on, the number of suspects and motives increases. I always enjoy it when the victim is a nasty person because it makes it harder to find the killer, and that’s the case here. Yet Maggie manages to make sense of it all and finger the right suspect.
The characters in this series are strong, and this book is no exception. A couple of relationships seem to have changed more quickly than I was expecting, but I enjoyed seeing the new dynamics, and I completely buy the reasons these relationships changed. In fact, there is one character we get a completely new view of in this book. Maggie really does have a great network of friends and family, and I love seeing them all again. As the list of suspects grows and we get to know these characters, we really do begin to believe any of them could have done it.
There are several sub-plots that keep things interesting. More importantly, they also really help sharpen the main characters.
Since the Crozats run a bed and breakfast, we get some recipes featuring Cajun specialties. These are definitely not the recipes you’ll find in other culinary cozies, and they sound intriguing.
Author Ellen Byron also takes a few pages at the end to expand on some of the things she’s introduced in the book. I really enjoy that added glimpse into the real world she is using as a backdrop for her stories.
And if the last few pages don’t fill you with Christmas cheer, I don’t know what will. Although I do wish we had gotten to know a bit more about the Cajun Christmas carols she references. I guess I will have to do my own research on those.
We really are getting a strong community of characters in this series, and A Cajun Christmas Killing is a chance to pop in and visit them for the holidays. You’ll get swept up into another delightful story before you know it, turning pages quickly until you reach the end.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.