Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
by Ellen Byron
About Bayou Book Thief
Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisiana
Publisher : Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593437616
ISBN-13 : 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN : B09FPJHVGK
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?
Born in New Orleans and abandoned immediately by her teenage mother Miracle “Ricki” Fleur di Lis James was adopted by the NICU nurse who took care of her. She now packs up her life in Los Angeles after her husband dies while trying to do an internet challenge and returns to New Orleans to start over.
That new start happens in a big way when she can combine her love for vintage cookbooks with her new job at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the home of the city’s legendary restaurateur, Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet. Ricki will be opening the museum’s new gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware.
After being open just a few days she discovers an employee of the museum is stealing books and they are fired for the crime.
Trying to put the matter behind her she is excited to learn she has received a steamer trunk and two oversize boxes of donated books. Worried about keeping the shop fully stocked the donation arrives at the perfect time. Ricki along with a couple of employees set out to sort through the donations before the museum opens but the trunk didn’t contain any books. Inside was the very dead body of Franklin Finbloch . . . the recently fired . . . book thief.
Being a fan of Ellen Byron’s Cajun County Mysteries I was sad to see that series end so I was ecstatic to learn of this new series again set in Louisiana.
Readers are introduced to a wonderful quirky cast of characters led by Miracle “Ricki” Fleur di Lis James who has a very interesting backstory that just starts to unfold within the pages of this story. She comes across already as a very strong protagonist with some great sleuthing skills.
We also meet several members of the staff at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum including Eugenia Charbonnet Felice who is the president of the Bon Vee Foundation Board. She oversees everything at the museum. She works hand in hand with the Executive Director, Lyla Brandt. We also meet Cookie Yanover, the Education Program Director. She and Ricki become fast friends. In fact, all of the employees for the most part get along very well and welcomed Ricki with open arms.
Away from the museum we meet Ricki’s landlord, Kitty Kat Rousseau and she is a hoot. Ricki’s AC has been out for days in the steamy New Orleans heat and Kitty is trying to get it fixed but Ricki believes something shady is going on.
Speaking of the heat, Ms. Byron’s detailed descriptions will have you sticky and sweating, wait, this takes place in the south, perspiring and glistening, and turning on your own air conditioners. She also paints a clear picture of Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware and places in and around the museum including the staff’s favorite hangout, the Bayou Backyard. It was easy to visualize every scene and this author does it without getting overly wordy.
The mystery that Ms. Byron put forth was plotted with intricate precision. It flitted in and out with varied subplots perfectly. Filled with clever twists and a red herring or two it wasn’t hard to get completely engaged by everything happening in the story. I did find it hard to truly pin down the killer. I was astonished when the guilty party started to be revealed. The ending was exciting and a bit comical as Ricki gets some awesome assistance from an unlikely duo.
Bayou Book Thief has set this series off to an excellent start. Diverse characters, a fun location, and a puzzling mystery have me declaring this book A Perfect Escape. And the cliffhanger introduced in the Epilogue has me excited and intrigued about Ricki’s future. Wined and Died in New Orleans is set to be released on February 7, 2023.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
About Ellen Byron
Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.
Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/
Great Escapes Praise for Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
by Ellen Byron
Bayou Book Thief is finer than a frog hair split four ways with a man who is as useless as a screen door on a submarine, a bounty of books, a vile victim, a diligent detective, an artful air conditioning repairman, warm weather, and a riled Ricki.
~The Avid Reader
Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries are always a delight.
Bayou Book Thief’s mystery is well-plotted, and you will really enjoy trying to figure out whodunit. I am so excited to find out what’s next for Rikki and her new friends.
~Christy’s Cozy Corners
I really liked this story and definitely recommend it to cozy mystery lovers, those who enjoy culinary stories, and those who want to do some armchair travel to New Orleans.
~Carla Loves To Read
Bottom Line: Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron is a highly engaging read, with interesting characters and intriguing plot threads.
~Reading is my Superpower
BAYOU BOOK THIEF brings together quirky characters and an engaging mystery in a wonderful setting. Vintage cookbooks, memorable characters, and the intoxicating setting that is New Orleans make this a fantastic start to a new series. Just remember, looks can be deceiving.
~Cozy Up With Kathy
It’s difficult to leave an old favorite like the Cajun Country Mystery series behind when the author pulls the plug and begins a new series. But if we must, at least we get to enjoy her new series set in Louisiana, as the author favors us with the sounds, scents, and majesty that is the local mystic of New Orleans.
This is an exciting new cozy mystery series that is quite entertaining. It has humor, mystery and a touch of romance all blended together for a fun-filled adventure. Bayou Book Thief is on my “best of 2022” list.
~Socrates’ Book Reviews
This makes for a fabulous story as it all plays out. Sure to be enjoyed by cozy fans especially if you want some Southern flair along with it. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. 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.”