It’s the end of the summer and Prodigal Daughter Maggie Crozat has returned home to her family’s plantation-turned-bed-and-breakfast in Louisiana. The Crozats have an inn full of guests for the local food festival–elderly honeymooners, the Cajun Cuties, a mysterious stranger from Texas, a couple of hipster lovebirds, and a trio of Georgia frat boys. But when the elderly couple keels over dead within minutes of each other–one from very unnatural causes– Maggie and the others suddenly become suspects in a murder.
With the help of Bo Durand, the town’s handsome new detective, Maggie must investigate to clear her name while holding the family business together at the same time. And the deeper she digs, the more she wonders: are all of the guests really there for a vacation or do they have ulterior motives? Decades-old secrets and stunning revelations abound in Ellen Byron’s charming cozy debut, “Plantation Shudders”.
If you’ve read some of my other reviews, especially the ones for Peaches and Scream or Rest in Peach by Susan Furlong, you’ll be aware that I have an obsession with the South, even though I’ve only been to Arkansas. Now, with this fabulous book that Ellen Byron has written, I have yet another reason to want to visit down there!
The characters were very well developed for a first book, and Byron’s descriptions of the architecture and landscape was wonderful. GrandMere was a hoot, and definitely my favorite character. Byron also introduces us to a character that is on the autism spectrum. I love when writers give us characters that are not as mainstream, because not everyone fits into perfect little pegs.
I really enjoyed the paranormal aspect to the book, with Maggie and GrandMere getting feelings about certain things. Although it’s never mentioned as being psychic, it is implied. I’m looking forward to seeing how this continues in future books. And although Byron could have used this as a sort of cop out to investigating the mystery, I don’t think that was the case at all.
The other thing I thought was a nice addition to the story was Maggie’s mother having had cancer, and being currently in remission. I think a lot of people can relate to this, either having had cancer themselves, or someone close to them who has had it. That story line just made me feel even more part of the family.
As for the mystery itself, I thought it was very well written. Bryon left some clues if you paid attention, and if you didn’t there was still a big enough clue before the big reveal that it would make you feel as if you solved it before Maggie.