Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, great mystery
Cons: Minor timeline issues
The Bottom Line:
Pagent judge murdered
Days leading to Mardi Gras
Murder Dampens Mardi Gras This Year
I must admit that one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about Louisiana is Mardi Gras. Yes, I know the state is much more than that. (And I complain about people who stereotype California, so that makes it extra bad.) But that is the focus of the fourth Cajun Country mystery, Mardi Gras Murder.
The town of Pelican is recovering from a flood that passed through three weeks ago. In addition to the water, the storm also deposited a dead body. Unfortunately, the man remains a John Doe, and identifying him has been hampered by the efforts to recover from the flood.
Fortunately, the bed and breakfast that Maggie Crozat's family runs had minimal damage, so they haven't had to cancel any of the reservations of those coming to celebrate Mardi Gras. Yes, New Orleans is most famous for celebrating the holiday, but Pelican never misses a chance to throw a party either, and they have their own parade, gumbo contest, and even the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen Pageant. Maggie isn't happy when she gets drafted to take her Gran's place on the judging panel this year. But she is shocked when one of the judges is murdered. Are Maggie and the other judges in danger now?
The plot of this book includes some fun, creative twists, and I loved it for that reason alone. These creative touches really make it a must read, and you’ll enjoy every page. There's a sub-plot as well that just strengths everything. And when we reached the end, everything gets wrapped up, including a plot point or two I'd forgotten about myself.
The characters continue to be a huge draw for this series. Maggy has a strong and large group of friends and family. Some of them play larger parts in the story than others, but we get at least an update from everyone, and it was fantastic to see them all again. I will admit I had trouble keeping the contestants and their families straight at first, but that became easier as the book progressed and everyone had more page time. Don't let the large cast of characters worry you, however; there's a list of everyone at the front of the book to make it easy for you.
I do have to issue a minor complaint here. The timeline of this book was a bit squishy. It doesn't affect the plot of the book in any meaningful way, but it did bother me a bit.
As I pretty much confessed at the beginning of the review, I'm not familiar with Louisiana (although I did finally get to visit the state last year). This book does a wonderful job of bringing the region to life and giving us a glimpse of that microcosm of American history and culture. I find this insight another wonderful aspect of the series, and author Ellen Byron's love of the region shines through.
Since Maggie's family runs a bed and breakfast, we get recipes in the back of the book. There are eight of them, including two variations of gumbo, and some pancakes that make me drool. You'll definitely enjoy having them after you've finished the book.
This series truly is fantastic. If you haven't yet met Maggie, you are in for a treat. And those who are already fans will be glad to go back and visit again in Mardi Gras Murder.
If you haven't started this great series yet, check out the rest of the Cajun Country Mysteries.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.