Guest Ellen Byron

Edith here, excited to welcome my good friend – and Agatha Award winner – Ellen Byron back. She has a brand new Cajun Country Mystery out!

Country star Tammy Barker, a Pelican native who won an American Idol-styled TV singing contest, returns home to headline the town’s first music festival. But Maggie Crozat discovers that Tammy is a full-fledged diva, a tiny terror in six-inch platform-heeled boots and a thick head of hair extensions. Worse, she carries a grudge against Maggie’s best friend, Gaynell Bourgeois. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered, Tammy sees to it that Gaynell is the prime suspect, and Maggie must cozy up to Tammy’s sketchy bandmates to prevent her friend from being charged with murder.


Between my Cajun Country Mystery series, being a Tulane University alumna, and our daughter’s status as a sophomore at Loyola University-New Orleans, I get to spend a lot of time in the Big Easy. On my most recent visit, I took a long walk through the Lower Garden District, snapping photo after photo of beautiful homes like this one…

Then I came upon this sight…

And it reminded me that while NOLA often feels like Disneyland for grown-ups, people live there. They drink beer on their stoops.

They navigate broken sidewalks and streets begging for repaving.

They do their laundry in a laundromat that’s been there forever.

And when it proves cost-prohibitive to repair a centuries-old gate, they leave the stanchions to decorate a property’s entrance like obelisks serving as a nod to the past.

My walk turned into a reminder of what makes New Orleans mean so much to me. It goes beyond the gorgeous architecture, wonderful music, and irresistible food – although trust me, there’s always plenty of that on a visit. It’s is the lives being lived while tourists wander by. The beer on the stoop and the laundromat belching out heat from its dryers.

What propels my passion for the Crescent City is really very simple — it’s the people who live there.

Mardi Gras Murder, Ellen Byron’s fourth Cajun Country Mystery, won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. The series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards from Left Coast Crime. Writing as Maria DiRico, she’ll debut a second series, The Catering Hall Mysteries, in 2020. TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents.  Her award-winning plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, have been performed throughout the world. Fun fact: she worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. Sign up for my newsletter at Find me at Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

Readers, what’s special about where you live? Comment for a chance to win a copy of FATAL CAJUN FESTIVAL.

75 Thoughts

  1. Where I live we can have all 4 seasons in a day. Lake Effect Snow, the best fans in the world, friendly people and plenty of culture is here in Cleveland, OH. The Metroparks offer respite and a place to refuel away from the rush of the city and everyday living. Did I mention craft beers and ice wine? We are known for these and for being a destination to visit with a lively music and theater scene.

  2. I live in Arlington, Texas. We are known for entertainment—it’s the home of Six Flags Over Texas amusement park and Hurricane Harbor water park. We are also the home of the Texas Rangers Major League baseball team and the Dallas Cowboys football team.

    1. Christi, when I was in college I had a huge crush on a boy in the fraternity across the street from my sorority. I still remember that he was from Arlington, tX!

    1. Pittsburgh is a GREAT city. And re: those streets. Los Angeles has a map of streets that includes ones marked as “fail.” Streets that are that bad. I think almost all of NOLA’s streets would go on that list!

  3. Congratulations on the new book! I really enjoy reading this series and I always enjoy learning new things about the South. Thanks for posting the pictures!
    I grew up in Madison, WI and one thing that makes my city unique is that it’s built between two lakes. The state capitol building was built on the isthmus area, which makes for a very beautiful setting. The city spreads out and around the two lakes and there are many more lakes to the south of the city. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by the beauty of lakes.

    1. Thanks so much, Andrea! My husband went to Marquette. I did summer stock in Minneaqwa. (Sp) It’s a beautiful state. Sorry I haven’t gotten to Madison yet.

  4. I live about 20 miles from Asheville, NC and it is home to the beautiful Biltmore Estate. It’s worth going if you’ve never been before.

  5. Congratulations on your new book! The Cajun Country mysteries are such great books! I’ve enjoyed the previous books and am looking forward to reading this book. I guess my area is probably known for the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s such a beautiful place.

  6. Love this reminder, Ellen! and I always learn something new about you — Martha Stewart – what?!!!! And readers are in for a treat when they get to read the Catering Hall mysteries!

    1. Lol, you didn’t know that? I feel like I never shut up about it. Find an old copy of “Entertaining,” and look at the group photo on page 29. You’ll see a familiar face standing next to Martha.

  7. Welcome to the Wickeds, Ellen. I’ve only been to New Orleans twice, both times for business, though I was able to extend my trip each time to do a little touristing. I loved it! Best of luck with this release. I can’t wait to read Fatal Cajun Festival.

  8. We are fortunate enough to live in our dream locations – the Ozark Mountains. We vacationed here for years and almost three years ago, we took the plunge, thinking now or never, and moved here. Best decision EVER!

    We live in the Folk Music Capital of the World. Although a small town with a population of less than 3000, we are a buzzing community from April to November with tourist and musicians. There is music everywhere from the pickin’ park, the courthouse square or several avenues of nightly concerts. We have a festival of some sort just about every month ranging from the Iris Festival to the Bean Fest and Outhouse Races. There is as much to do as you wish to participate in. With all this being said, we are like the Mayberry of the south with that small town friendly, ya’ll come have a sit and chat a while atmosphere. From the time we moved in, we were welcomed like an old friend returning home. People stop to talk to you and when they ask how you’re doing, they really want to know.

    We live right at the edge of town on a small acreage that is pure heaven to us. We have critters that come to visit on a daily basis. We’ve had eagles land in the front yard, lots of deer (some with distinguishing marks that we have named and look for with great joy), fox and raccoons feasting on corn side by side, birds of every color and size and even a bobcat who appears from time to time to sit under our trees. So when not enjoying the festivities in town, it’s a joy just to sit on the porch with the ceiling fans going and a cold drink and being entertained by natures critters.

    Love the winter break that we have from December to March. Gives the body time to rest and enjoy the indoor in front of the fireplace and with good friends. Plus then it makes you appreciate life more when April rolls around.

    Come and visit, but you better be careful because it gets in you and keeps pulling you back. You might even decide to take the plunge and move here too!

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of “FATAL CAJUN FESTIVAL”! Definitely on my TBR list and can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Oh Kay, I literally wanted to jump into your comment and live there! It sounds amazing. And props to you for following your heart. I hope I get to do the same someday.

  9. Loved this story. My little town has quaint shops, good food and many community events. You can rent a covered bridge – and we have many – to hold a fundraiser dinner!

  10. Congrats on the new release, Ellen. I got to visit New Orleans for the first time this past June. What an amazing city. We stayed in the Garden District, which was so beautiful. The 24 hour laundromats were really interesting, too!

  11. Oh, yes. I think often when we’re tourists somewhere we forget some people live there year round. Lovely pictures, and congrats on your new book!

  12. I’ve only been to New Orleans once, on business, but had enough time to wander around a bit. Loved everything I saw. Would love to read your book about it.

    I live in Lancaster, PA, home of lush greenery and flowering bushes, Amish farms, and neighbor of many small, authentic quaint towns. We retired here, and absolutely are delighted we did so.

    1. Lancaster is another place we went on a family vacation. LOVED it. My mom used to sing this song that started, “Shoofly pie and apple pan dowdy…” It always made me think of this part of the world.

  13. Loved the review andinfo on the streets, I love those breck sidewalks wish they would repair them. I want to go to New Orleans to see the old houses and the street parades they have. Great post thank you

  14. So often when I visit a place I love, I dream about living there. But I wonder what it would be like to live in a place like that in reality. Would it be as much fun as we dream it would be.

    This book is great! If you haven’t read this series, start it now.

    1. Thanks so much, Mark. And great point. I always try to balance my romance with New Orleans with a more objective view of its downsides. True of everywhere I’ve lived – NY, L.A. Wow. Short list!

  15. Hi Ellen!! I just absolutely love the Cajun Country mysteries it’s in my top five favorite cozy series!! You make me want to visit NOLA! There is nothing real special about my town, it’s just a small country town and I live out in the country where I am not bothered…lol. 🙂

  16. Wonderful series with so much local color! The Agatha win was well-deserved and I’m tickled that I reviewed it before the awards. May there be many more. 🙂

  17. Four seasons, home of the hamburger, it was invented in Seymour Wisconsin at the county fair. A squashed meatball on bread so it could be carried in your hand. The county fair is here too. Every August it’s hamburger days with a parade and hot air balloons. Plus a enormous hamburger to share.

  18. We have a lake here too and beautiful parks even a splash pad for the kids. A old railroad track turned into a trail to walk or ride horse on. In winter snowmobile on it. A wonderful library you can request books to be purchased! I love your series so much.

  19. I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Chicago is a beautiful city on the shore of Lake Michigan. Lots of great museums, theatres, restaurants lots of things to do.

    I love this series! New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. The Garden District is beautiful and there is so much history there. Looking forward to reading “Fatal Cajun Festival”.

    1. Dianne, thank you! My husband lived in Chicago after college for a while, and most of his friends live there now. LOVE that city. It’s wonderful.

  20. We have the beautiful Susquehanna River and the Capitol Building. Also not far from Hershey, Lancaster County, and Gettysburg. Harrisburg is a city but never felt that big to me.

  21. We have a great sense of community. Also, every year from May through September is 4th Friday where the shops in uptown stay open later and there are vendors and entertainment. Always a fun community event. Can’t wait to read this book!!

  22. My home town is the birth place of John Dillinger, know as the home of the State Flag, and is the location of Zydeco’s Cajun Restaurant. Which was show cased on Diners, Drive ins and Dives.

  23. Ellen, you clearly love to travel and you enjoy the places you go. I’m the same way. Isn’t it wonderful getting to know our country in all its aspects?

    1. It is! Honestly, I wish I could travel more. Most of my travel has been to either NOLA, NY or mystery cons over the last five years. I love that Left Coast Crime moves around. I get to go to some cool places, even if I don’t get to spend much time at them.

  24. Such a fun cover. Here we have all four seasons plus one extra. Construction. A big joke here. I love having all 4 seasons. Our town is also on the low crime rate. We have a lot of different types of trees.
    Quilting lady 2 at Comcast dot net

  25. Our little small town grocery store. It’s been there forever, run by the same two amazing people. You spend way more time chatting with the person you ran in to than actually getting your groceries. Has the best meat and a special broasted chicken recipe that people come from all over for. They provide milk, bread, & meat to the local nursing home at their cost.
    Would love to visit New Orleans someday.

  26. I live in a quiet town on the outskirts of Lafayette, Louisiana. Always something going on. We have lots of good stuff here, similar to New Orleans, on a smaller scale.

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