I first met Ellen Byron at Bouchercon Raleigh in 2015 and immediately knew I’d found a kindred spirit. I’ve since come to love her books and it’s my honor to present her latest here.
Author Name: Ellen Byron
Book Title: A Cajun Christmas Killing
Book Genre: Cozy
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Synopsis: Maggie Crozat is home in Cajun Country during the most magical time of the year. But the Grinch has come to stay at Crozat Plantation B&B, and he’s flooding travel websites with vicious reviews. Maggie ID’s him as rival businessman Donald Baxter –until Baxter is found stabbed to death. With her detective boyfriend sidelined as a suspect, Maggie must catch the real killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noel for the Crozats.
Excerpt: For Maggie Crozat, there was nowhere lovelier than Pelican, Louisiana, during the holidays. Its wrought iron balconies were threaded with sparkling garlands, and from them dangled colorful Christmas ornaments. Town businesses painted their windows with snowy scenes that delighted the local children, most of whom had never seen real snow thanks to Louisiana’s mild winters. In a time-honored tradition, images of pelicans were hidden among the decorations and anyone who mapped all of them received a prize: a toy pelican for the kids or a shot-glass shaped like one for the adults. The festive atmosphere brought forth much good cheer among the locals. It also allowed them to ignore the fact the sleepy Cajun village had been the site of four murders in a mere three months.
Maggie decided to join the collective state of amnesia, even though each of the murders had somehow involved Crozat Plantation B&B, her family’s ancestral home turned hostelry. As she drove down the Great River Road, she took in the bonfires that were in various stages of construction on the Mississippi levee. This was where Pelican’s good-natured competitive spirit really manifested itself. In centuries past, the bonfires had served as blazing signposts guiding travelers up the river, but they had evolved into a tradition of lighting the way for the Cajun Santa Claus, Papa Noel, on Christmas Eve. Eager participants who vied to create the most ornate structure often began building them right after Thanksgiving. Others didn’t care about looks, opting for the honor of loudest bonfire. Maggie couldn’t even see one of them under its layers of firecrackers. She noticed someone else had simply roped together stacks of sugar cane, which popped like firecrackers when they blazed.
In past years her father, Tug Crozat, had gone log for log with Belle Vista’s bonfire by erecting a detailed model of Crozat. But this year, Tug had unexpectedly opted for the more standard pyramid structure. He also bowed out of the fireworks display that always accompanied the bonfire’s burning. This really surprised Maggie, since Tug usually took to it with the glee of a ten-year-old budding pyromaniac.