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Bayou Book Thief: New Cozy Series

Bayou Book Thief  by Ellen Byron

Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner! + Rafflecopter Giveaway

Bayou Book Thief

Bayou Book Thief

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?

To purchase Bayou Book Thief, click any of the following links: Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Books – Alibris – IndieBound – PenguinRandomHouse

Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisiana
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593437616
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FPJHVGK

Interview with Ellen Byron — Author of Bayou Book Thief

Bayou Book Thief is the first in a brand-new series—the Vintage Cookbook mysteries. What inspired you to add to your Cajun Country Mysteries and Catering Hall Mysteries (written under Maria DiRico)?

It offered me a chance to work with Berkley Prime Crime and to actually set a series in New Orleans, both of which thrilled me. Plus, the Cajun Country Mysteries ended with Cajun Kiss of Death, the seventh book in the series. This allowed room in my schedule for me to write a new series.

What should readers know about Ricki James?

I think she’s very relatable. She’s made mistakes in her life and is determined to overcome them and get a fresh start. Every time the police interview her, she’s nervous, which I think we’d all be in real life. (I’ve heard police say that when they question potential suspects, the innocent are often more nervous than the guilty.)

Plus, her warmth, kindness, and empathy make her the kind of friend we’d all be lucky to have.

Bayou Book ThiefCan we expect great recipes in Bayou Book Thief? And descriptions of amazing Cajun/local foods?

Oh, the recipes are so much fun, although they’re not specifically Cajun or Creole. What I’ve done with this series is adapt recipes from my own collection of vintage cookbooks.

For example, I own a cookbook put out by Photoplay magazine in 1928 that features recipes from the stars of that time period, so I included Greta Garbo’s recipe for Swedish Salad, with some updates. There’s an easy-peasy recipe for coconut patties from a 1939 Pet Milk advertorial cookbook.

I include a brief description of the cookbook source with each recipe, so it’s a bit like culinary history, too.

New Orleans is an amazing city, tell us about your relationship with that community:

In the middle of my sophomore year in college, I transferred from a state school in New York to Tulane University, and a love affair with the city was born. My mother raised me to be a historical architecture buff, so I was in heaven in NOLA. It’s just a beautiful, sensual city.

Honestly, that’s what attracted me more than the food and music, which of course I discovered are absolutely extraordinary. As are the locals. So many unique, wonderful people live there. They’re good-humored, which is a survival instinct when faced with the downside of the city, which is a high crime rate and increased physical and infrastructure threats due to climate change. Given the obstacles they face in simply living day-to-day, they’re also remarkably resilient.

In general, the saying, laissez les bons temp rouler – let the good times roll – really speaks to the overall character of the city.

We both love pralines and beignets. What do you look for in the perfect praline? Do you have chicory coffee with your beignets?

Bayou Book ThiefI’m more a fan of creamy and chewy pralines than traditional, which are a bit grittier. I do love experimenting with flavors, but always return to the original basic flavor – although I do have a special place in my heart for Southern Candymaker’s sweet potato pralines, a recipe I tried and failed to recreate in Fatal Cajun Festival, my fifth Cajun Country Mystery.

As to how I take my beignets, it’s with chocolate milk and not coffee because I hate coffee in all forms! I’m not one of those people who doesn’t like coffee but likes coffee ice cream. I despise the flavor across the board. If I bite into a coffee candy, I not only spit it out, I rinse out my mouth!

In addition to being an award-winning, best-selling author, you have also written for the stage and the screen. How do those projects compare to writing novels? Is it hard to shift between mediums?

My other forms of writing are mostly dialogue, so I love that writing novels gives me the chance to wax rhapsodic in prose – although not too rhapsodic, lol!

I don’t find it hard to shift between mediums but what I do find is that the different mediums support each other. Writing novels enhances my storytelling skills, while writing scripts makes the dialogue in my novels stronger.

I also apply craft learned writing for TV to my novels. I outline my novels because that’s such an important part of the script process when you’re on the show. You literally cannot move to a script draft until the outline has been approved.

What are you working on now?

Wined and Died in New Orleans, the second Vintage Cookbook Mystery, will release on February 7, 2023. Four Parties and a Funeral, the fourth Catering Hall Mystery, will launch in April 2023.


Author Pet Corner!


Pogo Byron-Remillong is the Chihuahua-mix pet child of Ellen Byron and family.

Relinquished at age six to the Amanda Foundation, a Los Angeles rescue organization, he will turn sixteen in August.

While he no longer lives up to the Pogo Stick he was named after for his constant jumping, he still enjoys chasing his favorite toys, napping, snacking, and sleeping under the covers with Mom and Dad.

Ellen Byron — Author of Bayou Book Thief

Bayou Book ThiefEllen’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 WingsJust 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.

To learn more about Ellen, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Newsletter, Facebook (Ellen), Facebook (CateringHallMysteries), Instagram, Bookbub (Ellen), Bookbub (Maria DiRico), Goodreads (Ellen) & Goodreads (Maria)

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Visit all the Stops on the Tour!

Bayou Book Thief

June 8 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

June 8 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 8 – Island Confidential – REVIEW

June 9 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

June 9 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 10 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT

June 10 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

June 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

June 11 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW


June 13 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

June 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

June 15 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 16 – The Mystery Section – RECIPE

June 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

June 17 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

June 17 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

June 18 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST

June 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 20 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

June 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 21 – Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT

June 21 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell

All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio.

Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020

Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020



The Foundation of Plot, a Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet!) guidebook. Out July 19.

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Ellen Byron

    Thanks for a GREAT interview!

    1. Elena Hartwell

      Loved having you join me! Looking forward to reading your latest release.

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