FATAL CAJUN FESTIVAL, the fifth book in the Cajun Country Mysteries by Ellen Byron, is another entertaining addition to an award-winning series! The reader is treated to a music festival, Cajun-style, in Pelican, Louisiana. Ms. Byron is effective at writing highly visual scenes that tantalized my senses as I turned the pages. The sounds of the zydeco bands, the tastes of the Cajun food served at the festival booths, the sights of the bayou and plantation homes, and the sticky feel of humidity in the hot months of summer were brought to life. The protagonist, Maggie Crozat, and her family own the Crozat Plantation turned bed and breakfast. Local girl turned famous and her backup band have taken over the Crozat’s B & B while in town to perform. The Pelican native, Tammy Barker, seems to have let fame go to her head, yet she can’t let go her grudge against a high school mate, one of Maggie’s close friends. This ramps the drama up and provides a subplot that weaves together with the mystery.
Despite the angst going on in the story, the author manages to create humorous scenes to lighten the mood involving Maggie’s family. I especially loved Maggie’s feisty grand-mère, who just so happens to be the instigator of the festival and has been known to quote, “It’s Louisiana chère. When do we not celebrate?” I appreciate that Ms. Byron has created a close-knit, supportive family for the protagonist, with both her parents and grand-mère, and captures the vernacular of the characters. And of course I can’t pass up mention of Maggie’s fiancé, Bo, Pelican’s handsome detective. It was refreshing to see that Bo respects Maggie’s intelligence and actually asks for her input, realizing she has access to information that people won’t share with him.
I’ll have to admit I thought I knew who the victim was going to be, but Ms. Byron threw in a twist that kept me on my toes the rest of the book. Not only was I uncertain if the victim was the intended target, but who were viable suspects. The twists and turns kept me glued to the pages to see how the author would fit the puzzle pieces together in a convincing mystery. And fit them together she did, with an unforeseen curveball that left me thinking about the story long after it was over.
Maggie’s mother creates quite a few delectable dishes to serve at the family’s B & B, plus Maggie herself is in charge of creating the pralines to serve at the family’s booth at the festival. So many mentions of yummy regional food had my mouth watering. Luckily for the reader, Ms. Byron includes several recipes at the back of the book, including one laugh out loud mention of her attempts at making Sweet Potato Pralines. (I’ll admit, I am intrigued by the elusive confection!) I was drawn to the Rum Raisin Cake with Rum Buttercream for a couple of reasons. I love any recipe that starts with a cake mix because I know it’ll be an easy, no-fail recipe. And second? Well, rum… lots of rum! This deliciously light cake is a yummy treat that will impress dessert lovers!
Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.
Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.
The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.
Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.
A special thanks to Ellen Byron for providing one winner with a hardcover copy of FATAL CAJUN FESTIVAL. Contest ends Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup rum
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup softened butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons rum
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 - 3 tablespoons milk (or use rum, if you like your frosting boozier)
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
Soak the golden raisins in rum for thirty minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
In a mixer on low speed, blend together the cake mix, water, and eggs. Turn off the mixer and add the rum and raisins. Set the mixer to medium and blend all the ingredients for 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into 2 greased 8-inch cake pans.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, making sure to check at 20 minutes because the layers cook faster with liquor substituted for water as the batter liquid. If you insert a toothpick into the middle, it should come out clean. Do not overbake! The cake will dry out.
Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.
Let the cake layers cool before frosting.
Cream the butter with the vanilla, rum, salt, and 1 tablespoon of milk.
Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, blending it well with the other ingredients. If you need to thin the frosting, add another tablespoon or two of milk - or rum. Add additional confectioners' sugar if frosting needs thickened.
To assemble the cake, slice a thin layer off one of the cake layers so that it will be level on the bottom, then invert the cake layer onto a plate so that the flat side - the bottom - is facing up. (Feel free to eat the thin slice!) Frost this layer.
To add the second layer, invert it onto a plate, then place it on the frosted layer with the flat side down. (This is how you get a professional-looking cake - placing flat side to flat side, that is, bottom of the layer to bottom of the layer. Frost the rest of the cake.
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I was provided an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.