Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron

Posted June 11, 2022 by meezcarrie in contemporary, cozy mystery, Ellen Byron, giveaway, mystery/suspense / 10 Comments

Vintage Cookbook Mystery #1

GENRE: Cozy Mystery
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2022
PAGES: 301

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?


Other Books In This Series

Oooo y’all! This series is gonna be good! The mystique of New Orleans. A culinary house museum honoring a late socialite celebrity chef. A vintage cookbooks & kitchenware gift shop. Quirky staff. A bit of romance potential. Several mystery threads to solve. And a winsome protagonist who draws readers into her own personal story right away and keeps us invested in her for the long haul.

After a troubled marriage and her promising career both end tragically, 28-year-old Ricki James-Diaz has returned to the city of her birth (New Orleans) in hopes of starting a new life and finally figuring out where she came from. Adopted by a NICU nurse after her teenage mother disappeared from the hospital, Ricki has a lot of questions about her biological family and while this isn’t the focus of the story it’s definitely in the background enough to keep me eager for the possibility of some answers in the next book! Including one particular twist near the end that has my reader mind all awhirl with anticipation.

I loved the concept of Ricki’s gift shop in the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum – it gives the story some built-in layers with the history of Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the quirky tour guides, staff dynamics, and the ins and outs of store management. It was slightly and pleasantly different from the usual gift shop cozy motif, and I found myself wanting to buy out her inventory of vintage cookbooks! Like Ricki, I don’t really cook but the idea of these cookbooks really intrigues me.

The mystery itself is very well written and has several threads that kept me guessing as to how they were related – if at all. This always makes me happy as a mystery reader – when my mind stays solidly engaged in the case from beginning to end. I was caught totally off guard by the culprit (not easy to do, as many mysteries as I read) and I had lots of fun solving it alongside Ricki!

Bottom Line: Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron is a highly engaging read, with interesting characters and intriguing plot threads. Ricki delights as the series protagonists, and readers will become thoroughly invested in her story, along with the mysteries she’s trying to solve in this first book. The supporting players anchor the plot – and Ricki, for that matter – and add a lot of entertainment value. A hint of possible romance in future books has my full support, and I’m already eager for book two!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!

Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that this book does contain some mild, scattered curse words.

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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

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What about you? What makes you want to read Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron?

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10 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron

  1. Ellen Byron/Maria DiRico

    Thanks so much for a great review! I hope you’ve inspired people to read the book. *Fingers crossed emoji.* 😉

  2. Debra Pruss

    I will try this a third time. I adore cozy mysteries. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  3. Autumn Trapani

    I love cooking, cookbooks, and Ellen Byron’s books, so I can’t wait to read this!

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