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Title: Bayou Book Thief
Author: Ellen Byron
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Page Count: 301
My rating: 3 1/2 stars
About the book:
A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.
Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.
Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.
The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.
Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?
Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron is the first book in the new cozy Vintage Cookbook Mystery series. As with most cozy mysteries each book of the Vintage Cookbook Mystery series will contain it’s own mystery to be solved so they can be read as a standalone if choosing to do so. There will be character development that carries over from book to book however for those who follow the series from the beginning.
At twenty eight Ricki James never expected to find herself a widow but that is exactly what she is. Ricki’s husband had died doing a stupid internet stunt so now she had decided to begin again by moving from Los Angeles to New Orleans where she was born.
Ricki has opened her own shop, a gift shop in the museum for Genevieve (Vee) Charbonnet who had run a restaurant in the city before passing. Ricki loved that she could turn her passion of collecting vintage cookbooks into a business but she never expected to find a body at her business, that of a former Bon Vee employee who had been fired for being a thief, so now Ricki needs to find a murderer before it’s too late.
Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron certainly brought the city of New Orleans to life as I began this new series with the author doing a great job with the setting of the story. I did find it a little tough to keep track of all the secondary characters in this opening as there were quite a few but I did enjoy getting to know the lead along the way. Definitely a series that has that mix of quirky humor to go along with a solid mystery leaving this opener at three and a half stars for me.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries and Catering Hall Mysteries (under the pen name Maria DiRico). MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries, is inspired by her real life. LONG ISLAND ICED TINA, the second in the series, recently launched, with both books in the series garnering great reviews.
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. She 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. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.
Nice review, Carrie. I liked this one a bit more than you did, but that’s okay.