Monday, November 22, 2021

Book Review: Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

Plantation Shudders (Cajun Country Mystery, #1)Plantation Shudders (Cajun Country Mysteries #1). Ellen Byron. Crooked Lane Books (2015). 282 pages. Genre:  Cozy Mystery.

First Line: "Maggie flew down southern Louisiana's River Road in the red '64 Falcon convertible that she'd inherited from her late grandfather."

Summary:  Maggie Crozat's family owns a Louisiana plantation that they have turned into a bed-and-breakfast.  End of summer is a busy time as guests flock to the area for the local food festival.  The rooms are full with a variety of guests from an elderly newlywed couple to a family with young children.  Unfortunately, things do not get off to a good start when the elderly couple drop dead within minutes of one another.  One appears to have died of unnatural causes.  

Pelican Chief of Police, Rufas Durand, holds a grudge against the Crozat family claiming they put a curse on his family.   The Durands and Crozats have had a rivalry going for years.  The Crozat Plantation can't take bad publicity right now, so Maggie determines to investigate the murder on her own.  Fortunately, there is a new detective on the force who isn't so unkind and Maggie works with him to find the killer. 

My thoughts:  This series has been on my TBR for quite a while.  After reading several positive reviews for the most recent book in the series, I figured I better get started.  I am so glad I did.

Immediately I was drawn into the setting, which is unfamiliar to me.  The series takes place in Louisiana, right in the heart of Cajun Country.  The plantations, the bayous and the southern manners were foreign to me and I enjoyed experiencing them through the pages of this book.

I will admit that it took me a bit to warm up to Maggie.  Initially, she seemed a little over the top.  But, as the story went on I appreciated the way her grandmother or parents reigned her in.  And it really didn't take much reigning, just a simple reminder and Maggie would calm down.  By the end, I appreciated Maggie's loyalty to her family and friends that sometimes caused her anger to flare.  

There is a great cast of characters here.  Topping the list is Maggie's grand-mere Crozat, 'Gran for short. She is a hoot.  The rest of the family, consisting of her mom, dad and cousin, Lia are people I wouldn't mind spending time with.  The Chief of Police is a real piece of work and so is his fiancee.  Fortunately, his cousin, Bo Durand, the newest addition to the police force, treats everyone fairly regardless of the family they belong to.  I hope to see more of all of them in future books.  

The crime had several suspects, but no one really stood out.  Maggie just kept digging until things finally made sense.  She really did work with Bo.  Anytime she uncovered something she would contact him immediately.  I was glad the two of them solved the mystery and explained it to the reader, because I didn't have a clue.  

One small quibble I had with the book was the use of some crude language and over-the-top scenes.  Fortunately, this was not excessive and will not keep me from reading future books.  Overall I really enjoyed this book and am eager to visit the Crozat family again.