Monday, October 24, 2016

Mystery Review: Body on the Bayou

Title: Body on the Bayou
Author: Ellen Byron
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, 2016. 320 pages
Source: Electronic ARC as part of the Great Escapes Tour
ISBN-13: 978-1629537689
E-Book – ASIN: B01H082DY

Publisher's Summary:
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.

When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa’s Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties–the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa’s cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger’s lifeless body is found on the bayou 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.

My Review:
This was a good, fun read! I enjoyed the story, and was caught up in it from almost the beginning. Though this is the second book in the series, I didn't feel like I was missing anything or confused about characters--just enough was explained as we went along (and I can go read the first book without having had it spoiled for me, either).

The mystery is well constructed, though I had my suspicions about the guilty party early on. I lacked any idea of the motive, of course--that was a big part of what Maggie had to work out. And there were some other lovely suspects, including some that I wouldn't have minded seeing become the victims (see: Bridezilla and her mother. Deliciously awful!).

Relationships are as important in a cozy mystery as is the mystery, and Ms. Byron has done them well. I had to wonder a bit about why Maggie is even friends with Vanessa (a.k.a. Bridezilla), but most of the rest made sense, and people were fairly 3-dimensional. The romantic interest ran at about the right level for me--not the central feature of the story, but present. It might have been a little too fraught, but just when I wanted to shake Maggie and insist that she actually speak her worries aloud, she did that, thus saving herself from my wrath. (I lose patience with romantic angst that could be cured with a little honest conversation.)

Finally, the story is well-written and well edited (I think I found one error, so better than average). The author has a good ear for writing. I don't know anything about the Cajun country, and I didn't get a real complete feel for it from the book, but it had just enough of a setting to give a flavor.

For those who enjoy cozy mysteries that have a solid mystery as well as a lot of fun!

About the Author:
Ellen’s debut novel, PLANTATION SHUDDERS: A Cajun Country Mystery, has been nominated for an Agatha Best First Novel award, a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery, and a Daphne Award for Best Mainstream Mystery. The second Cajun Country Mystery, BODY ON THE BAYOU, will be available in September 2016. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. Ellen Byron is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University.

Webpage –
Blog –!blog/c1in0
Twitter –
Facebook –
GoodReads –
Purchase Links:
Amazon  B&N

There's a giveaway, too!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to see what others think? Check out the other stops on the tour!
October 21 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
October 21 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
October 22 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
October 22 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
October 23 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW  
October 23 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
October 24 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
October 24 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW
October 25 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
October 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
October 26 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST
October 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 27 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
October 27 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
October 28 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
October 28 – 3 Partners in Shopping. Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
October 29 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
October 29 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 30 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
October 30 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

FTC Disclosure: I received a free electronic review copy of Body on the Bayou. I received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Photo Friday:Halloween

I have no stories in me today. about some more pictures? In honor of the approach of Halloween, I'll toss out some themed shots.

Where it all begins, perhaps? Being beamed down by the mother ship.

Other nasty creatures come along:

But the aliens look happy and normal under a blue sky. And why not? We all know that horror stories happen on dark and stormy nights, right? Just pretty pumpkins and innocent children in the sun.

But soon the alien creatures are eviscerating innocent squash.

And the next thing you know, your home is taken over by this:

Or this:

And it takes a sinister turn:

Who knows what mayhem the aliens will wreak?

And in the end, it all comes to this, as the aliens move on, leaving their mark behind them.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mystery Review: Journey to Munich, by Jacqueline Winspear

Title: Journey to Munich
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2016. 285 pages.
Source: Library

Publisher's Summary:
It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

My Review:
Winspear has been moving this series more and more toward suspense/international intrigue and away from classic mystery. That's not necessarily good or bad, but it does change things, and I personally kind of miss the feel of the early books. 

That said, it's fascinating to watch Maisie grow and mature as she approaches (dare I say it?) middle age. I'm not sure I approve of everything Winspear has done to our hero, but there's no denying it keeps her interesting. So Maisie, having taking the unlikely leap away from her career to be a wife and mother, gets that ripped from her, and has to figure out how to go back to being happy in a career. As it turns out, part of that question will be seeing how she handles espionage.
I have to say that I'm not sure Maisie handles it well. Some parts are excellent, but she seems to make--and get away with--some very dubious choices. She creates a case map in her Munich hotel room. Fine. That's how she thinks. But she doesn't destroy it, and as far as I can tell leaves it in the room when she potentially is not coming back. She has also carried with her at least one object that would, if discovered, blow her cover. And, despite the scrutiny she's under, this doesn't happen. No one searches her room. It stretches belief a bit.

But: I have to admit that I noticed those things in retrospect, not at the time (well, okay, the case map worried me at the time. I expected it to turn up again in the story, as something that put her in great danger). For the most part, Winspear's writing is good and keeps the reader engaged and buying into the story as you go, despite the weaknesses.

Finally, I wanted to note that the books have moved from one era to another. It's still "between the wars," but in 1938 it is much more about the approach of WWII (the rise of the Nazis) than about the aftermath of WWI. That doesn't really matter, other than that I like the earlier period of history. It does present Winspear with new challenges, as she needs to track the changes in the world during that period!


If you are reading the series, you won't want to miss this. But this is a series to read in order. There is a lot of background and character development you won't want to miss as we follow Masie over the years. And if you prefer your mysteries classic, this one might disappoint, though there *is* a mystery she has to solve.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Journey to Munich out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."