Tuesday, January 31, 2023

ARC Review: Wined and Dined in New Orleans by Ellen Byron

Wined and Dined in New Orleans

Ellen Byron
Series: A Vintage Cookbook Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Berkley (February 7, 2023)

Description: The second in a fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

It’s hurricane season in New Orleans and vintage cookbook fan Ricki James-Diaz is trying to shelve her weather-related fears and focus on her business, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop, housed in the magnificent Bon Vee Culinary House Museum.

Repairs on the property unearth crates of very old, very valuable French wine, buried by the home’s builder, Jean-Louis Charbonnet. Ricki, who’s been struggling to attract more customers to Miss Vee’s, is thrilled when her post about the discovery of this long-buried treasure goes viral. She’s less thrilled when the post brings distant Charbonnet family members out of the woodwork, all clamoring for a cut of the wine’s sale.

When a dead body turns up in Bon Vee’s cheery fall decorations, the NOPD zeroes in on Eugenia Charbonnet Felice as the prime suspect, figuring that as head of the Charbonnet family, she has the most to gain. Ricki is determined to uncover the real culprit, but she can’t help noticing that Eugenia is acting strangely. Ricki wonders what kind of secret her mentor has bottled up, and fears what might happen if she uncorks it.

In the second Vintage Cookbook Mystery, Ricki has to help solve a murder, untangle family secrets, and grow her business, all while living under the threat of a hurricane that could wipe out everything from her home to Bon Vee.

My Thoughts: Transplanted California girl Ricki James-Diaz is trying to calm her fear of hurricanes, run her vintage ccokbook and kitchenware shop, and overcome her fear of social media. When a cache of very valuable wines is discovered in Bon Vee, Ricki posts the find to social media which manages to unearth Charbonnets from all over who all want a piece of the prize.

When one of the most obnoxious is found killed with an antique meat mallet from Ricki's shop, Ricki is on the case to prove that none of her friends at Bon Vee had anything to do with it despite all of them having run-ins with the victim in which they threatened to kill him. 

Bon Vee and the Charbonnet's restaurant have been facing hard times because of Covid and various weather disasters, the wine find would be a real lifesaver. Ricki needs to sort through quite a variety of suspects to find the guilty party.

Meanwhile, Ricki is still on the hunt for her birth parents and learns that she is a Charbonnet, great-granddaughter of the famous Miss Vee. But the generations in between are still a mystery. 

This was an engaging story with interesting characters. I enjoyed the strong bonds of family and friendship growing among the cast of characters.

Favorite Quote:
Knowing full well Virgil would never have approved the switch, Ricki locked eyes with her nemesis. She might suffer from bouts of insecurity, indecision, and intimidation -- the "ins that should be outs" as her mother called them -- but never when it came to animals.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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