Holidays

“Mardi Gras Murder” by Ellen Byron

 

“Mardi Gras Murder,” the fourth entry in the Cajun Country Mystery Series, stars independent Magnolia Marie (Maggie) Crozat, an artist/B&B owner whose family has lived in Pelican, Louisiana for generations. In the weeks before Mardi Gras, a torrential rain hits St. Pierre Parish, flooding all the towns and bayous in it, submerging houses and pushing everyone’s junk along as the water rises to find release at the Gulf of Mexico. The rainwater finally settles and wreckage is left behind, but so is the body of a stranger, found at the back of the Crozat property.

 

“Mardi Gras Murder” is enriched by its inclusion of how natural disasters bring neighbors together, whether to haul away debris or provide temporary housing to the newly displaced. This is no ordinary town, but a tight-knit community steeped in tradition that shouts to the world: “Mardi Gras will go on. Peli-CAN!” despite the flooding, the damage, and the dead body.

 

Maggie’s Gran comes down with pneumonia, so to carry on family tradition, Maggie is pushed to judge the beauty pageant in her stead. For a sick senior citizen, Gran wields an awful lot of power from that sickbed, a delightful plot nod that embraces older kinfolks as respected contributors to society. Maggie conforms to some of the Pageant rules to keep the peace, but shows us a different approach to showcasing young women, not with their lineage, but by demonstrating talent, brains, and showing them encouragement when needed.

 

Many interesting characters inhabit the pages of “Mardi Gras Murder,” and Bo Durand, a Pelican police detective and Maggie’s hunky boyfriend, fits nicely into Maggie’s circle. In a real-world subplot, the tension and misunderstandings between them deliver a nuanced look at how couples and blended families cope with difficult issues.

 

In this entertaining Cajun mystery, gumbo pots are sacred and locked in safes along with secret recipes. Maggie suspects she was second place to her dad’s black pot during each year’s preamble to Mardi Gras. Even the winner of the Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen Pageant wears a crown that includes a rhinestone gumbo pot in its design.

 

Happily, because of the internal Crozat family competition for the top gumbo prize, there are several cooking scenes. I could taste the fabulous seafood gumbo while it simmered on the stove, although I was pleased to see that Bo planned to enter his chicken and sausage version into the competition. There are as many kinds of gumbo as there are cooks to debate their choices, and Byron cleverly included that banter in the book.

 

Complete with yummy sounding recipes, there is lots happening in “Mardi Gras Murder.” It engages and informs us with local history and dialect while supplying us with more than one mystery to solve, more than one body, and more than one plausible suspect to investigate. Great fun!
 

“Mardi Gras Murder” has recently been nominated for this year’s Left Coast Crime Award (the Lefty) and the Agatha Award.  🙂 This just in: "Mardi Gras Murder" won the Agatha last night for Best Contemporary Novel. Bravo!  🙂

 

Please visit www.ellenbyron.com for information about her other books in the award-winning series.

 

 

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus

 

“A Christmas Peril” introduces us to Sully (Edwina) Sullivan, Theater Cop, a former active duty detective in Massachusetts. Sully is now the managing director of the cash-strapped Cliffside Theater Company whose troupe is about to stage the iconic Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. But first, she has to keep Scrooge from quitting, while holding her ex-husband and an old boyfriend at bay. There’s also the matter of the murders.


In the five years since leaving law enforcement, Sully has not lost her sleuthing skills, so when an old friend becomes a person of interest in his father’s murder and needs Sully’s help, she agrees to look into the circumstances. It turns out that every single member of the family is hiding something. With big money, romantic intrigue, and a large company at stake, there is plenty of motive to go around and no shortage of suspects.


Her ex-husband, Gus, complicates matters just by being around, but he’s a lawyer for the dead man’s family, so he’s hard to avoid. Sully still has a soft spot for him, though, and any guy that can make her toes curl can’t be all bad.


“A Christmas Peril” is an absorbing peek behind the curtain at the world of theater production. Costumes have to last for years, tech rehearsals take longer than I would have thought, and the battle for Arts money is a continuing challenge. One of the characters says while half-kidding, (paraphrased so as not to give anything away) “We can’t kill the star. His name is above the title and we would have to refund the tickets.”


Can Sully’s savvy skills save her former boyfriend and the play from disaster? Will she be able to keep from adding her ex-husband to the rising body count? And, what about the murders?


Hennrikus has penned a complex, multi-layered plot that delivers jaw dropping surprises. I could have sworn one of the ‘obvious’ suspects did at least one of the deeds, but instead turned out to be guilty of something else.

 

I’m looking forward to a repeat performance from the personable core group of characters – some quirky, some serious, but always entertaining. You can pre-order book #2 in the series, “With a Kiss I Die,” now. 

 

Please visit www.Jhauthors.com for more information about this Agatha nominated author and her other series.

 

 

 

 

July 4th Mysteries – 2018

 

 

 

Looking for a book to read with a July 4th Mystery theme? This list of twenty-six ‘July 4th Mysteries – 2018’ titles contains entertaining books by bestselling and/or other fun authors where the 4th of July theme is important to the novel. Some are oldies, but goodies, some are relatively recent. If you know of others, please tell us in the comment section.   🙂

 

“Murder on Parade” by Donald Bain  

 

“Murder by Fireworks” by Susan Bernhardt


“The Cat Who Went Underground” by Lilian Jackson Braun


“Dead on the 4th of July” by Meg Chittenden

 

“A Catered Fourth of July” by I. Crawford


“Red, White, and Blue Murder” by Bill Crider

 

“Dead on the Fourth of July” by R.E. Derouin

 

“One Fete in the Grave” by Vickie Fee


“Lemon Meringue Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke


"Mistaken Identity" by Patricia Gligor


“Tool & Die” by Sarah Graves

 

“Act of Darkness” by Jane Haddam


“Dead, White and Blue” by Carolyn Hart

 

“Yankee Doodle Dead” by Carolyn Hart


“Exit Wounds” by J. A. Jance


“A Timely Vision” by Joyce and Jim Lavene

 

“Silence of the Jams” by Gayle Leeson


“Knee High by the Fourth of July” by Jess Lourey

 

“A Sparrow Falls Fourth of July” by Donna McLean


“Star Spangled Murder” by Leslie Meier

 

“Foal Play” by Kathryn O’Sullivan

 

“4th of July” by James Patterson/Maxine Paetro

 

“Can't Never Tell” by Cathy Pickens


“Death by Deep Dish Pie” by Sharon Short

 

“Independence Day Plague” by Carla Lee Suson

 

“The 4th of July Can Be Murder” by Dianne Vereen
 

Happy 4th to the USA readers and stay safe during the festivities.  Have fun choosing from the July 4th Mysteries – 2018.   🙂 

 

 

Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2018

 

BunrattyCastlefarmhouse copy

St. Patrick’s Day will be here soon! For those of you that focus your reading on holiday/cultural themed books, the list below features Irish writers, mysteries/suspense set in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day murders, or titles with Irish characters central to the plot. Some are modern classics, some are newbies, but all are entertaining reads. You’re sure to find a story in the list of 33 Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2018 that you will want to read again and again. (Links included for bold titles)

 

Lisa Alber: “Path into Darkness

Maeve Binchy:  “A Week in Winter

S. Furlong-Bollinger: “Paddy Whacked

Steve Cavanagh: “The Plea

Sheila Connolly: "Many a Twist"

Kathy Cranston: “Apple Seeds and Murderous Deeds

Kathi Daley: “Shamrock Shenanigans

Frank Delaney: "Shannon"

Nelson Demille: “Cathedral”

Tana French: “Broken Harbor

Patricia Gligor: "Marnie Malone"

Alexia Gordon: “Murder in G Major

Andrew Greeley: “Irish Tweed”

Jane Haddam: “A Great Day for the Deadly

Lyn Hamilton: “The Celtic Riddle

Lee Harris: “The St. Patrick's Day Murder

Erin Hart: “The Book of Killowen

Jonathan Harrington: “A Great Day for Dying

Mary Anne Kelly: “Twillyweed

Amanda Lee: “The Long Stitch Good Night

Dan Mahoney: “Once in, Never Out

Brian McGilloway: “Little Girl Lost

Ralph M. McInerny: “Lack of the Irish”

Leslie Meier: “St. Patrick's Day Murder

Stuart Neville: "Ghosts of Belfast”

Carlene O'Connor: "Murder in an Irish Churchyard"

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: “Death Takes Up a Collection”

Helen Page: "Equal of God"

Louise Phillips: “The Doll’s House

Janet Elaine Smith: “In St. Patrick's Custody”

Patrick Taylor: “An Irish Country Practice

Peter Tremayne: “The Devil’s Seal”

Kathy Hogan Trochek: “Irish Eyes
 

If your favorite Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2018 titles are not on the list, let me know and I’ll add them!
 

Happy choosing and reading!

 

Cookbooks by Famous Authors – 2017

 

Book Cover - The Cozy Cookbook

What great cook can resist a great new cookbook?

Even better, what foodie/avid reader can resist a cookbook created by his/her favorite author?

 

The following fifteen cookbooks have been recommended by the readers of Nightstand Book Reviews as part of their literary and/or cookbook collections. The cookbooks would definitely make a fun gift to a fan of any of the authors. There are some pretty famous writers in the mix and many of the cookbooks have been nominated for awards.   🙂   If you have tried any of the recipes, please let us know in the comments.

 

Click on the book title to learn more about the featured recipes and where to buy the books.

 

 

"Brunetti's Cookbook" – Roberta Pianaro, Donna Leon

 

 

Cooking with Jane Austen”   – Kirstin Olsen

 

 

"Food to Die For"  – Patricia Cornwell, Marlene Brown

 

 

"Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook"  – Diane Mott Davidson

 

 

"Have Faith In Your Kitchen" – Katherine Hall Page

 

 

Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader” – Jan Karon

 


“KP Authors Cook Their Books” – 11 Kindle Press Authors

 

 

Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook” – Stuart Brown, forward by Alexander McCall Smith

 

 

"Mystery Writers of America Cookbook" – Kate White, editor; famous mystery writer contributors

 

 

The Cat Who Cookbook” – Lilian Jackson Braun

 

 

"The Cozy Cookbook"  – Laura Childs & other bestselling cozy writers

 

 

"The Hemingway Cookbook" – Craig Boreth

 

 

"The Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook" – Theresa Carle-Sanders

 

 

Yashim Cooks Istanbul: Culinary Adventures in the Ottoman Kitchen – Jason Goodwin

 

 

"Winnie the Pooh’s Teatime Cookbook" – A.A. Milne

 

 

Happy holiday cooking with these cookbooks by famous authors!  🙂

 

 

                      

Literary Cookbooks

 

 

bookcover-outlander-kitchen-cookbook

 

What cook can resist a great new cookbook?

Even better, what foodie/avid reader can resist a cookbook created by his/her favorite author?

 

The following twelve cookbooks have been recommended by the readers of Nightstand Book Reviews as part of their literary and/or cookbook collections. The cookbooks would definitely make a fun gift to a fan of any of the authors. There are some pretty famous writers in the mix and many of the cookbooks have been nominated for awards.  🙂  If you have tried any of the recipes, please let us know in the comments.

 

Click on the book title to learn more about the featured recipes.

 

"Cooking with Jane Austen" – Kirstin Olsen

 

"Food to Die For" – Patricia Cornwell, Marlene Brown

 

"Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook" – Diane Mott Davidson


"Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader" – Jan Karon

 

"KP Authors Cook Their Books" – 11 Kindle Press authors

 

"Mystery Writers of America Cookbook" – Kate White, editor; famous mystery writer contributors

 

"The Cat Who Cookbook" – Lilian Jackson Braun

 

"The Cozy Cookbook" – Laura Childs & other bestselling cozy writers

 

"The Hemingway Cookbook" – Craig Boreth

 

"The Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook" – Theresa Carle-Sanders

 

"Yashim Cooks Istanbul: Culinary Adventures in the Ottoman Kitchen" – Jason Goodwin

 

"Winnie the Pooh’s Teatime Cookbook" – A.A. Milne
 

 

Happy cooking!  🙂

 


 

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