Alcohol, food, and female smarts in "Cajun Kiss of Death"
Cajun Kiss of Death, by Ellen Byron, is a murder mystery set up in a small town in Louisiana. It is an easy read, with a snappy artist lead, lots of female bonding, and self-deprecating humble-but-actually-perfect people.
Ms Byron uses her obviously extensive skills from script writing to bring a snappy tale. She includes all the desirable elements, and is smart about limiting information. It reads very much like a mix between Murder She Wrote, Golden Girls, and Gilmore Girls. There is also a clear demarcation between good and shady characters, as well as worryingly copious drinking. There is even a “Twenty-years later” chapter, to close off the last generation and confirm the happy ending.
Cajun Kiss of Death is not a great book, but it is a good time filler. Also, those who enjoy Cajun cooking will find added recipes at the end.
Who would enjoy this
As I said before, Cajun Kiss of Death is a holiday read type of book. Thus, suits best people who enjoy that type of mystery.
It is also a good option for readers who like stories set in very specific environments, and find Louisiana culture attractive, particularly where it concerns its food, plantation, and French influences.
Who should give this a pass
Cajun Kiss of Death does not have a deep and demanding plot, which would make it a bad choice for lovers of cerebral thrillers.
Additionally, this is also a type of chick lit where the males are either antagonists or, at best, mildly supporting characters. Thus, it would not be enjoyable to people with an interest in gender balance issues, or who enjoy rounded character development.
Conclusions and suggestions
I consider Cajun Kiss of Death to be a good book, whose author has clearly planned as light entertainment, and it fulfils such purpose. On the other hand, it tries so hard to be hype and have a super-cool female, that it loses much of its attractiveness half way down the volume. Everything is so focused on the protagonist, she becomes more of a chore to like than an inspiring heroine.
As usual, much can be learned from a book, particularly from an experienced writer. In this case, I would like to remark upon:
- Perfection is boring. A perfect lead? Death to the story. Sadly, that is the case here.
- Doing research and weaving it in will make your story more attractive. Ms Byron’s narrator seemed a local voice to an outsider, such as me, and that made it more reliable.
- Moments where the lead character has realisations which are dramatically enhanced but not shared with the audience should be limited to one or they’ll be disrespectful.