Body on the Bayou (Cajun Country Mystery #2) by Ellen Byron
Rating: Very Good
Description: The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation B&B might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they’ve managed to survive the scandal. Now there’s a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat’s nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.
Maggie, inexplicably tasked with being Vanessa's Maid of Honor, quickly discovers why everyone else refused the assignment when the Bridezilla hands her a long list of duties — the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa’s cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke, a mysterious woman with dangerous secrets. But just days before the wedding, Ginger’s lifeless body is found on the bayou behind Crozat Plantation and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.
There’s a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa’s own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities in Body on the Bayou, the second in Ellen Byron's charming and witty series.
Genre: Mystery - Cozy
Why I Picked This Book: I absolutely loved the first one in this series and couldn't wait to find out what happened next.
My Impression: I love a good cozy mystery and Ellen Byron has definitely earned her spot on my auto-buy list with this 2nd Cajun Country Mystery.
First off we have the characters and like any small town setting there are a lot of them. We have the Crozat family which consists of our amateur sleuth Maggie as well as her parents, grandmother and a sprinkling of cousins, as well as Maggie's co-workers at the Doucet Plantation and a good number of townspeople but it never stayed into so many characters that I couldn't keep up with who was who. Like most small towns (or anywhere really) there is a mix of people among the residents and while most are good, intelligent, considerate people you also have the Fleers and Rufus who are basically none of those things. I loved Maggie. She's smart, funny and really close to her family but has realistic self-doubts about what having left New York, still being single in her early 30s, and working with her family at a Bed and Breakfast as well as being a part time tour guide which seem intensified now that her kind of boyfriend's ex-wife has shown up in town. However, she doesn't get angsty or too navel gazing and it feels like a real adult having some real issues. The drama that is Vanessa and Rufus' wedding had me laughing as Vanessa keeps adding one thing after another to the list of problems Maggie is supposed to solve including - find Ginger's real murderer. I can completely see the LSU themed wedding from people who never actually attended the university. I can just see that happening.
With all that going on it would have easy for the mystery itself to get lost but Byron wove it in quite wonderfully. I never felt like the mystery had been forgotten even in the middle of a Bachelorette party or a regular day at work for Maggie but at the same time I felt like I got to know the characters even better than I had in book 1. I pretty much inhaled this book in 2 sittings and couldn't wait to find out how everything wrapped up from Maggie's personal life, to the wedding of the century, to the murder itself. I don't think it's a secret that I read a lot of mysteries and usually I have a pretty good guess as to the whodunit question if I haven't figured it out completely but I really had no idea in this one. Not only was it a surprise but once all the motives were laid out it made perfect sense.
While I think you could easily read this book without reading the 1st book you would probably enjoy it more if you read them in order. There are a number of relationships that started in book 1 that are developing in this book. Both are fantastic mysteries and quick reads and I highly recommend both. They're both fast-paced mysteries full of interesting characters and from a series that just seems to ge getting stronger!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! Is the 3rd book out yet? I want it now!
Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely! I think this series has to be added to my list of gateway cozies. If you enjoy a good mystery don't pass this one up!