WINED AND DIED IN NEW ORLEANS by Ellen Byron
SERIES: Vintage Cookbook Mysteries #2
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2023
The second in a fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.
It’s hurricane season in New Orleans and vintage cookbook fan Ricki James-Diaz is trying to shelve her weather-related fears and focus on her business, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop, housed in the magnificent Bon Vee Culinary House Museum.
Repairs on the property unearth crates of very old, very valuable French wine, buried by the home’s builder, Jean-Louis Charbonnet. Ricki, who’s been struggling to attract more customers to Miss Vee’s, is thrilled when her post about the discovery of this long-buried treasure goes viral. She’s less thrilled when the post brings distant Charbonnet family members out of the woodwork, all clamoring for a cut of the wine’s sale.
When a dead body turns up in Bon Vee’s cheery fall decorations, the NOPD zeroes in on Eugenia Charbonnet Felice as the prime suspect, figuring that as head of the Charbonnet family, she has the most to gain. Ricki is determined to uncover the real culprit, but she can’t help noticing that Eugenia is acting strangely. Ricki wonders what kind of secret her mentor has bottled up, and fears what might happen if she uncorks it.
In the second Vintage Cookbook Mystery, Ricki has to help solve a murder, untangle family secrets, and grow her business, all while living under the threat of a hurricane that could wipe out everything from her home to Bon Vee.
Other Books In This Series
Wined and Died in New Orleans is a delightful follow-up to Ellen Byron’s first book in the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries – Bayou Book Thief. Like its predecessor, this book too is full of vibrant, diverse characters (including the city of New Orleans itself) and a layered mystery that had me thoroughly engaged from beginning to end.
Ricki remains a wonderful protagonist, and I keep rooting for her to succeed professionally and personally (hello, swoony chef neighbor). Her new ‘assistant’ Olivia and their interactions (particularly related to social media) provided plenty of opportunity for humor but also a lot of heart. I really enjoyed this addition to the supporting cast around Bon Vee, especially as their closer connection is revealed. Hold on to your hats, though, because a bevy of impossible-to-like distant branches of the Charbonnet line come out of the woodwork after a rare wine find means potentially mega bucks for the family coffers. These tertiary characters have very few, if any, redeeming qualities (they’re not supposed to) but they do provide some extra comic relief as well as additional tension related to the mystery plot – it certainly wouldn’t have been the same without them.
I really enjoyed book one in this series, and there were a couple of subplots that I was eager to see developed further in the next offering. Wined and Died in New Orleans gave me exactly what I was hoping for with regards to those subplots and even teased some more development for them in book 3. I love story arcs that continue across a series, and Ricki’s discoveries/mysteries about her biological family as well as her brewing romance with hottie Virgil keep me solidly invested in the series, apart from the enjoyable characters and solid plots which also keep me coming back for more. I also love her relationship (part antagonist, part friendship) with Detective Nina, and this sentence from Ricki to Nina made me laugh out loud:
“You’re about to get a new suspect, along with a lack of specific proof and a heavy dose of my imagination.”
haha! Isn’t that true of every good cozy amateur sleuth? And that’s why we love them, right?
Bottom Line: Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron is a fun way to spend a few hours, wrapped up in the stormy Louisiana setting and a house museum full of endearing characters. Readers will love Ricki from her personality to her vintage cookbooks & accessories, her dogs, and her nearly Luddite approach to social media, not to mention her dogged pursuit of the culprit – or culprits – behind the variety of crimes going on in her purview. The mystery is expertly crafted and full of surprises, so settle in for another great read!
(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!
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
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What about you? What makes you want to read Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron?
It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.
Hope you get the chance to read it.
I love her Cajun Country Mysteries and I know this series is going to be just as good. Pretty much anything set in New Orleans is a winner.
Brenda, thank you so much!!
Sounds like a cozy I will enjoy reading. I love the cover.
I love the cover too!
Ditto on Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country series–much prefer those atmospheric cozies–less romance, fewer recipes.
So glad you enjoyed my Cajun Country series. What’s fun about this one is the few recipes I include are adapted from my own collection of vintage cookbooks – and I share a little history on each cookbook!
Thanks so much for a wonderful review! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book.
I think this sounds good.