NEWS FLASH: Ellen’s winner is Linda Herold!
A flood has up-ended life in tiny Pelican, Louisiana, and deposited the body of a stranger in the bayou behind Crozat Plantation Bed and Breakfast. Meanwhile, the post-flood recovery has put a controversial exhibit about the little-known Louisiana Orphan Train on hold. But the resilient citizens of Pelican aren’t about to let some hundred-year flood ruin their Mardi Gras festivities, which include Courirs de Mardi Gras – Mardi Gras Runs – a gumbo cook-off, and the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant contest. When a pageant judge is shot, Maggie Crozat is convinced that his death is somehow connected to the stranger’s. And she wonders – does someone want the gumbo-shaped pageant queen crown bad enough to kill for it? Or are the deaths somehow related to the Orphan Train, which delivered its last charges to Cajun Country in 1929?
Ellen will give away a copy of the book to one commenter here today, too (restricted to continental US only). Take it away, Ellen!
The Wonderful World of Mardi Gras World
I have to confess, despite the prodigious amount of time I’ve spent in New Orleans, I’d never been to Mardi Gras World. The venue is generally written off as a tourist destination and visiting tourist destinations is something those of us who like to consider ourselves honorary citizens tend to be snobby about. But since the theme of my new release is Mardi Gras, I decided to finally pay MGW a visit. And what a revelation.
My agent, Doug Grad, and I were both in town for the ALA convention, so we decided to go together. Located along the river walking distance from the convention center, Mardi Gras World is a must-see. The tour begins with a movie about the Kern family, which has been making Mardi Gras floats for umpteen years. A bunch of costumes are available, offering visitors a chance to dress like the Krewe members that man the floats, and me the chance to look like a total idiot. (Props for Doug jumping into the game. To protect his dignity – and mine – I will not be sharing that photo.)
After the movie, a guide walks visitors through the facility, where people are constructing the decorations that will grace next year’s floats. This is no Disneyland, folks. Artists and craftspeople are working incredibly hard to make Mardi Gras magic.
The tour concludes in the gift shop, as most tours in general do, but with the “lagniappe” – a Louisiana expression that means “a little something extra” – of a slice of King Cake, the traditional Mardi pastry.
And I got an extra gift – images I could use in my Shameless Shilling Campaign to celebrate the launch of MARDI GRAS MURDER.
Readers: What is your favorite tourist site? Have you ever visited a site you loved that people dismiss as too touristy? Remember, Ellen’s giving away a copy of Mardi Gras Murder to one lucky US commenter!
Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country Mystery series has been nominated for Agatha, Daphne, and Lefty Awards. Body on the Bayou and A Cajun Christmas Killing both won the Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award. Her TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and many network pilots; published plays include the award-winning Graceland.