Reading: Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

29th January 2018

Magnolia Marie Crozat, Maggie for short, has returned from New York after heartbreak to help out with the family business. The Crozat plantation, now a bed and breakfast, is hurting for business, and with just her parents, grandmother, and a hired couple to work it, Maggie injects a bit of life into the place, offering a special to fill rooms for the end-of-summer festival. A full house has them all thrilled, until a storm leaves a pair of elderly honeymooners dead – one of natural causes and the other, not so much.

Maggie knows her own family can’t be involved (right?), but trying to determine what an Australian family, married hipsters, trio of frat boys, and/or plantation enthusiasts had to do with the death is tricky. The decades-old grudge between the police chief’s family and the Crozats doesn’t simplify matters, even when a new detective arrives on the case. Nepotism at work, Bo Durant is the police chief’s (attractive) cousin, but he seems fair, and together with Maggie, the two are determined to uncover the many secrets that threaten to incriminate the wrong people.

You guys know I love a good cozy mystery. I don’t always review them because they aren’t always worth it, but Plantation Shudders combined charm, good writing, and enough truth about the South to have me applauding. The Gulf Coast often gets described as sultry, but let’s be honest, there’s nothing sexy about sweating constantly and swatting mosquitoes. And tourist plantations or no, class issues are alive and well in communities like Pelican. Byron doesn’t shy away from any of these elements, which lent a much more authentic air to the first of this cozy series, a challenge compared to other cozies I’ve read.

The list of suspects grew until I was genuinely surprised by the culprit, a nice turn of events after reading several supposed mysteries and guessing early on “who dun it.” All in all, Plantation Shudders was a great light read, and I look forward to seeking out others in this series.

*But don’t take my word for it. Check out what others had to say about Plantation Shudders on Goodreads.