Tuesday, August 3, 2021

ARC Review: Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron

Cajun Kiss of Death

Ellen Byron
Series: Cajun Country Mysteries (Book 7)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (August 10, 2021)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: This seventh and final Cajun Country mystery begins at Maggie and Bo's wedding on New Years' Eve. Also marrying at the same time are Grand-mere and Lee Bertrand and Rufus Durand and Sandy Sechrest. We get to see all the characters we have come to know through the previous six books. 

A few weeks later, the B & B is hosting the crew of a new Cajun restaurant which is being opened by Phillippe Chanson. Guests include his ex-wife and business partner, his best friend also a partner, his new girlfriend who is a sous chef, and some other employees. Folks at Pelican have mixed feeling about the new restaurant. Maggie and her family will enjoy more traffic at their B & B, but JJ is wondering if his restaurant can compete with the new one.  Maggie also notices lots of tension among the various restaurant people. 

Locals are also incensed when Chanson steals recipes from local joints and even from Maggie's mother. So when Chanson dies in a speedboat accident while celebrating the Grand Opening of his restaurant with fireworks over the Mississippi, there are a number of suspects who wouldn't mind that he was no longer around. Because the accident damaged a barge and a bridge, a number of law enforcement agencies get involved including Bo, Rufus and the Pelican police. 

Meanwhile, Maggie is dealing with some additional issues. The accountant for Doucet where Maggie works has cleaned out the bank accounts and skipped town leaving the non-profit in danger of closing. And Maggie seems to have attracted a stalker. She is also dealing with art lessons, which were a gift from Bo, with a teacher who seems delighted in putting down Maggie's work. 

Maggie's abilities as an observant artist play a key role in solving the murders of Phillippe Chanson and the man who was hired to write his autobiography. 

This was a great cozy with some tasty sounding recipes interspersed in the story and detailed at the end of the book. I like the variety of interesting characters. I also like the Epilogue which jumped twenty years into the future and let us know how things were going for the characters.

Favorite Quote:
Gran eyed Maggie. "Are you all right? You look perturbed."

"I'm perfectly fine except for one of our guests might be a killer, I may have a stalker, Doucet is in trouble, and I've lost whatever artistic talent I once had."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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