Night falls, and the bonfires on the levees north of New Orleans start to catch fire. One by one, flames lick through the thirty-foot high structures. Onlookers cheer as bonfires covered with strands of firecrackers crackle and explode. I don’t cheer. I’m too busy running.
I dash past one conflagration after another, my arms scalded by flaming ash, running from a murderer who’s already claimed one victim. I have zero desire to be the next. I scream for help, but no one can hear me over the roar of flames. As I race by with my nemesis on my heels, people whoop and holler. They think it’s a game. “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” someone calls. Let the good times roll.
I scream as the firecrackers on another bonfire set off a rat-a-tat-tat that sounds like a semi-automatic weapon. If the murderer on my tail decides to use a gun, no one will even notice. Out over the Mississippi River, fireworks burst in the sky and color rains down. At this point the levees could be a battlefield. I’m battling to stay alive.
I slip in the wet grass and twist my ankle, then limp into the shadow of an unlit bonfire to nurse the injury. Flames suddenly wrap around the side of the structure and head toward me. Hiding behind what’s basically a giant matchstick? Not a good idea. I take off again, ignoring the pain. At least the dance exercise classes my friends Gaynell and Ione dragged me to have provided an extra dose of stamina. Who knew learning how to jeté in BalletBod would come in so handy?
The air smells like burning wood, gun powder, and beer. I’m covered with a coat of ash that’s been turned to glue by a steady light rain that won’t let up. It’s going to take scrubbing with steel wool to get the gunk off me – if I’m lucky enough to survive the night.
This was not how I planned to spend Christmas Eve.
You can read more about Maggie in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the third book in the “Cajun Country” mystery series.
Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects.
The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer.
The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.
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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of A Cajun Christmas Killing. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 13, 2017. Good luck everyone!
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About the author
Body on the Bayou, the second book in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery Series, recently won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for an Agatha Award in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. Ellen’s debut novel in the series, Plantation Shudders, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards, and made the USA Today Bestseller list. Book three, A Cajun Christmas Killing, launched October 10th. TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, Fairly OddParents, and many pilots. She’s also an award-winning playwright and journalist. Ellen lives in Studio City with her husband, daughter, and two spoiled rescue dogs. Visit her at ellenbyron.com.
All comments are welcomed.