The Dead End Tour A French Quarter Mystery By Jen Pitts: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Apr 29, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of either the newest book in the series The Dead End Tour, or the first book in the series, and a link to purchase the newest one from Amazon.

The Dead End Tour: A French Quarter Mystery By Jen Pitts
Review by Kathleen Costa

Welcome to NOLA!
It’s definite … Thirty-year-old Samatha Richardson is home! She made the move from San Francisco to New Orleans, even though her friend Madeline thought it temporary, primarily because of her infatuation with the Big Easy, its history and culture, but she also learned she had a more personal connection to the area. Her apartment is in Thibodeaux Mansion, a quintessential French Quarter home owned by Libby and William Tyler, and her neighbors are a diverse troupe of professionals, business owners, and a very quirky and boisterous spiritualist. Sammy, as her southern friends have dubbed her, has settled in, is navigating a new romance, becoming a regular around the Quarter, and now, relishing her work at the local bookshop. Her penchant for mysteries has led her to also be a regular in several murder investigations.

The Dead End Tour Earns 5+/5 Creepy Legends … Favorite Cozy Gem!
There’s more than enough opportunities in the Quarter for enterprising young people to make money providing tours from a focus on history or the local culture to the deep mystical roots or the just plain creepy. Sammy’s friend Neal, who owns a successful tour business, was asked to observe Brad Clayton’s Creatures of the Night tour and provide constructive insights. He got Sammy and her cousin Jasper to join him and offer their own impartial ideas, too. Brad’s, excuse me … Vlad’s presentation, vampiric theatrics, and inaccurate details was difficult to watch, and worse yet, was the cheesy appearance of Hannah Robbins portraying a “casket girl,” one of many myths attributed to the Ursuline Convent. That’s the last straw!

Mason Jennings, disguised as a tour guest, accuses Brad of stealing his idea for a vampire tour, “casket girls” tale, and Hannah as a night creature. Even Sadie Holt is angry after being dumped as Brad’s girlfriend and replaced by Hannah as the casket girl. Neal and Sammy try to broker a compromise recognizing both guys have skills that compliment each other and a partnership could be a solution. Intrigued by the Ursuline Convent legends, Sammy and Sissy trek over to the site for a peek, unfortunately, they find a caped figure escaping the scene and Hannah’s dead body with real looking vampire marks on her neck. One more story to add to the French Quarter mystique.

Cool-a-Rama! Jen Pitts creates quite a diverse personality for the French Quarter and, with Halloween a month away, adding rumors and legends of night creatures along with forensic details only enriched my experience. Can you say Anne Rice? The crime is cleverly entwined with the vampire myth, made more intriguing by Ruby’s claim there are “dark forces in the air,” and once again, due to the fact Sammy’s cousin was dating the victim, it’s personal giving Sammy a strong motivation to get involved. Her amateur investigative methods are reasonable and effective, even problematic which gives the story a sense of realism that I need in my cozies. The suspects were obvious with close friends to the victim standing out, but alibis are strong and motives are held in reserve, slowly dealt a little at a time: jealousy, anger, a power struggle, fame. With assaults, threats, a missing woman, and a cryptic message, it can only lead to a surprise ending!

I find Jen Pitts’ writing to be creative with an engaging investigation woven in and around life at the Mansion, gatherings at cafés or bars, or visits to the bookshop or a French Quarter site. The characters, evolving relationships, Ruby and Papa’s mystical focus, and online tabloid journalist all make the reading experience complete. An endearing element in the story, and the series, is the dynamic among the Thibodeaux and French Quarter residents from good friends and best friends to confidants and annoyances. I enjoy the interactions and camaraderie that is portrayed.

Get Ready! The sixth book in Jen Pitt’s French Quarter Mystery series, A Corpse in the Cafe, is set for later this year. Sammy has had some intense family moments since moving into the French Quarter and her Thibodeaux Mansion neighbors, now family, are always there to provide support, but what mysteries await her?

It all started here … in the Big Easy!
The French Quarter is an eclectic environment up and down Bourbon Street and around Royal with its cafés, shops, hotels, and bars filled with friendly neighbors, regulars, and tourists. There’s Mardi Gras, Voodoo, hauntings, graveyards, mausoleums, and ghosts to provide an adventurous backdrop along with Cajun treats and New Orleans favorites. It’s the mystery, myths, and legends that makes this series a favorite place to visit and a top contender for “Best of 2023.”

The Key to Murder (2020) Earns 5+/5 Beignets & Beads… Clever Gem!
A new home in the French Quarter. A odd diary’s clues depicting a scavenger hunt. An intricately designed key. An oddly familiar BB doll with a note saying “Welcome Home.” A body in an abandoned home. So much fun, I couldn’t put it down! Samantha’s journey started out slowly much like the southern way and like it would if you were taking in all the people and the nooks and crannies of a place with which you are unfamiliar: stopping here for coffee, there for a muffuletta sandwich, and trips to the museum and the bookstore, but there’s a sense of something lurking just below the friendly hugs and hellos. It was a lovely introduction to the Quarter and its inhabitants, but then … footsteps echoing in the hall yet no one was there, a woman running after her friends, they ignoring her, and then finding her dead body, and later another death shocking the Thibodeaux family. The Big Easy has become the “big complicated.” I was so engrossed in the well-written tale all the way to the shocking revelation made at night in a cemetery of all places! Romance? Sammy is attracted to one handsome man, despite their initial introduction and his own issues, and he seems equally interested in her. All this unfolds into a compelling drama with Mardi Gras in the background. What a way to start the series!

The Gates to the Afterlife (2020) Earns 5+/5 Gates & Gumbo … Intriguing Gem!
A story of Voodoo. A dead body. Rituals popping up around the Big Easy. Again, I was hooked! This well-written second book, originally released near Halloween, is appropriately spooky with details about the famous Voodoo practitioner, a ritual connected to the afterlife, and Papa Gede’s warning that the books, events, and discussions about the ritual are deadly dangerous. Voodoo has always carried with it mystery and trepidation, mostly from ignorance of its true nature, but Jen incorporates the fiction along with the nonfiction providing a fascinating look into its practices and the life of Marie Laveau. Although there may be a reckoning for messing with things best not messed with, there are several engaging ‘this side of the veil’ motives just as deadly: disgruntled significant others, professional jealousy, publicity stunt gone bad, revenge for the past. The drama is made more complicated by a new resident at Thibodeaux Mansion; Maribelle “Elle” Culpepper earned herself a position with Neal’s tour business, but it’s her role as his roommate that makes Sammy suspicious. Clever details, spooky elements, multiple murders, and a surprise conclusion makes this a late-night treat … just read with the lights on!

A Deadly Check-in (2021) Earns 5+/5 Tomb Flowers… Engaging Gem!
A real family. A fight over an inheritance. A mausoleum worth big money. Another death too close for comfort. Watchful ghosts. This third book is a “Wow!” with the mysteries surrounding Sammy bringing together her Thibodeaux family with her biological St. Martin family with obvious contrasts between the two setting up a dilemma of which side Sammy owes her loyalty. Sammy’s past and her real identity as Sarah Jane is a unique element complicating the story with issues related to her adoptive parents’ secrecy, her uncle’s complicity and his death, differences in the cousins’ upbringings, and her family’s inheritance. Although sadly she’s family, the victim seems a karmic choice with her personality, attitude, and treatment of others rubbing many the wrong way. Those in the line of her fire are added to the suspect list oddly on which puts Sammy and her boyfriend Connor, too. I was intrigued by how Jen creatively kept an air of suspicion around the aunt and remaining cousin, and even others warn Sammy about the family, especially the aunt having a hidden agenda, but is that all? No. There are intense interactions, ghost stories, hidden secrets, Ruby’s “spiritual exploration,” and a treasure to mark the path all the way to a surprise conclusion … Whew!

Bury the Past (2022) Earns 5+/5 Charm Bracelets … Entertaining Gem!
A skeleton unearthed. A bracelet identified. A long-lost daughter still missing. A crime is determined. A friend is in jeopardy. Another excellent read as Jen Pitts continues to capture the mystery of the Big Easy while maintaining the level of realism I expect. Ruby’s psychic abilities is an engaging element that enriches the series, no juvenile “ghost mumbo-jumbo,” but the “charlatan” issue is addressed with Ruby’s confrontation with the self-serving Sutton O’Berry. Their contentious banter, however entertaining, highlights her disdain for his abilities, but it’s his connection to the missing women and proximity to the crime scene that interests Sammy. Cold cases are a favorite element and Jen Pitts addresses well the natural challenges and obstacles of a crime decades old. This one, however, is personal to the Thibodeaux family, which is a compelling focus, and Verity’s quiet nature, budding psychic gifts, an argument with her mother, and possible conflict within her group of young friends opens many interesting avenues to explore. Sammy’s newly introduced cousin has moved to the Quarter building a positive relationship, but her brother, on the run from murder charges, may be back in town which adds another complication. Well-written story, clever details, tarot insights, spirits, surprise reunions, and a few intense predicaments makes this book an excellent addition to an already favorite series!

FREEBIE ALERT! Jen Pitts Newsletter Sign up and receive the exclusive prequel to A French Quarter Mystery, Coffee, Scone and a Place to Call Home.

Coffee, Scone and a Place to Call Home (2021) Earns 5/5 Scones … Fun!
Samantha has been drawn to New Orleans, and now visiting, she hopes to find a way to make it a permanent home. Fortuitously, a storm hits, she ducks inside Artistic Coffee & Creations, and meets Libby Tyler — whose about to change her life. Sitting and enjoying a café au lait and a scone, she’s introduced to the strange artwork on the wall, The Mystery Painting. Challenge: use the clues in the painting to discover the name of its artist, and if successful, the painting is the prize. A great flashback with a well-devised puzzle illustrating Samantha’s critical thinking and clever insights — just the skill sets one might need if a murder mystery or two, three, to more falls into your lap!

Be a Big Jen Pitts Fan!
Like many authors, Jen Pitts is a lifelong mystery reader, and out of that obsession, she started writing her own cozy mysteries selecting the Big Easy as the setting of her French Quarter Mystery series with her “West Coast transplant Samantha Richardson settling into her new hometown, New Orleans … full of music, food and history as well as interesting people … she explores the Big Easy by solving the mysteries of the past and present in this new modern, cozy mystery series.”

Website: Jen Pitts, Author
Facebook: Jen Pitts, Mystery Author

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Interview with Jenn Pitts:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

JP: I’ve been writing for over thirty years, but my earlier writing was for businesses. I began writing my mysteries about five years ago. It’s much more fun to write fiction than ad copy.

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Jenn Pitts

JP: My first novel is The Key to Murder, which was published in March 2020. It’s the first book in The French Quarter Mysteries. Samantha moves to New Orleans to start a new life, but also to learn about her past. Orphaned at the age of two, Sammy knows nothing about her birth family. When an anonymous diary leads her on a scavenger hunt, she finds she has other mysteries to solve, too. Sammy moved to the French Quarter for a new life, but is it her past that found her first?

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?

JP: I first wrote professionally, but it was business materials such as tech manuals, ad copy, and company newsletters. Now I write cozy mysteries, but I have a few psychological suspense books on the back burner.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

JP: New Orleans is my favorite city, so it was an easy pick for my series! I get to explore the history and current events of the city while I write my books. My characters are people I’d like to be friends with in real life. Well, not all of them necessarily, but you need some annoying and “bad” characters in a story.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?

JP: My first goal is to entertain my readers, but I do hope they enjoy learning about New Orleans. And I hope they enjoy reading about people who become family, not necessarily through marriage or blood.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?

JP: I write five days a week and sometimes on the weekend, too. I try to work during the day, but sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow it. If I didn’t have enough time during the day, I’ll write in the evenings. I’ve also been known to wake up in the middle of the night and write. I keep notebooks with me at all times so I can jot down ideas and sections of my book wherever I am.

KRL: What is your ideal time to write?

JP: I enjoy writing in the afternoon, but I don’t always have time because of my family’s schedule. Honestly, the ideal time to write is when the ideas flow easily.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

JP: I start with an outline, but I’m not married to it. Usually, half-way through the draft, I rewrite the outline. I like to see where the book has gone and to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

JP: I decided to self-publish after researching the traditional publishing route. I decided I wanted to have control over my publishing schedule. Fortunately, I had help from other self-published authors, so it made the process easier.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

JP: I don’t have a specific story, but I’m always thrilled when my critique group laughs out loud when they’re reading a funny section. They didn’t know about cozy mysteries when we formed our group, so it’s been wonderful teaching them about the genre.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story, in a bookstore or other venue?

JP: I recently did an author talk with a friend who writes steamy paranormal romances. It was such fun talking about the differences in our genre.

KRL: What are your future writing goals?

JP: To keep writing mysteries! I love writing cozy mysteries, so I plan to write them for a very long time. I’m also writing a paranormal cozy mystery series.

KRL: Who are your writing heroes?

JP: Agatha Christie is my hero. I love all the books she wrote and how she came up with such creative mysteries.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

JP: Research is my favorite thing to do! I go to New Orleans as often as I can for “research.” Actually, it is research, but it’s fun. I go on all kinds of tours from ghosts to architecture. I visit museums, and I chat with locals. They have great stories and recommendations of places to visit.

KRL: What do you like to read?

JP: I like to read any and all mysteries! I read psychological thrillers as a change of pace from what I’m writing.

KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?

JP: I love British mystery shows. I rewatch all the Agatha Christie shows from time to time. I love Agatha Raisin, Madame Le Blanc, and Father Brown. For current movies, I loved Knives Out and The Glass Onion.

KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

JP: Write, write, write! You only get better with practice. I also recommend sharing your work with others. It’s nerve-wracking at first, but having feedback at any stage of your writing is invaluable.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

JP: When I tell people I don’t like shellfish, they’re pretty surprised. I’ve lived in Maryland, Florida, California, and Washington, places where shellfish is popular. And of course, shellfish is popular in New Orleans.

KRL: Do you have any pets?

JP: I have two wonderful cats, Mabel and Dipper. We adopted this brother and sister pair from our local shelter when they were three months old and now, they’re almost two years old. They’re named after the brother and sister in the cartoon “Gravity Falls.”

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

JP: Just that I’m grateful to everyone who reads my books!

Enter to win either a copy of The Dead End Tour by Jen Pitts or the first book in the series by making a comment below about a favorite New Orleans memory: (1) a trip to the Big Easy, (2) Mardi Gras or a favorite festival, or (3) your favorite Cajun delight, or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “dead end,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 6, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE SURE TO STATE WHICH BOOK YOU WANT.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I went to Mardi Gras and somebody tried to steal my wallet!

    • I’m sorry to hear that! Mardi Gras is such a big event with so many people.

    • Love this series. Being from South Louisiana, reading them is like making a visit back home.

  2. These look great! Never been to New Orleans, but love beignets. I think that’s how it is spelled.

    • Beignets are wonderful! I always have them for breakfast when I’m in New Orleans.

  3. I know that I would enjoy reading The Dead End Tour: A French Quarter Mystery by Jen Pitts!

    • Thanks! Good luck entering the contest!

    • Visiting the cemeteries was really neat! Also just touring the city and seeing so much history!

      • I love visiting the cemeteries! So much architecture and history in one place.

  4. The French Quarter seems like an exotic
    place to me. I’d love to start with the
    first book of the series and work my
    way up to the current episode. sounds
    like a great read. thanks

    • The French Quarter is no like no other! Good luck!

  5. I enjoy reading new authors, sounds good!

    • I would like to start with your first book in the series, “The Key to Murder”. As for a favorite New Orleans memory, I have so many! Many years ago, a quick trip to N.O. happened to be during Halloween. That was the most fun I’ve ever had on Halloween! Mardi Gras you see some sights, but I think that Halloween was even more to see! It was the ultimate “people watching” trip.

      • I can imagine how much fun Halloween was! I’ve been there for Mardi Gras and for St. Patricks day, but I need to be there for Halloween.

  6. My favorite Cajun delight would have to be Shrimp Creole.

    • Mine is gumbo! I had duck and andouille sausage on my last visit and it was incredible!

  7. My mom and I went every 2 years to New Orleans for our family reunion until Katrina. So many memories of those times, touring plan plantations and so much.

    • What a great place for a family reunion! You must have tons of memories!

  8. Wonderful interview…thanks! I have never been to New Orleans, but it is on my bucket list. We were supposed to go down for JazzFest a few years ago but…well, covid. We will get down there one of these years!

  9. I’m from New Orleans and worked on Bourbon St. for 5 years in the 1970’s. Voodoo wasn’t as big as it is now although it was always known. I’ve read all your French Quarter books and enjoy details that I recognize like the Ursuline convent. Perhaps in future books Sammy can explore other parts of New Orleans like the Garden District and the Irish Channel. Keep up the good work.

  10. I’ve been to NOLA a couple of times.once we spent a week in the French Quarter and had such a good time. Lots to see and do! We went on tours to see the Antebellum mansios, the bayou and tried lots of good restaurants. It’s a great city! I would like the first book in the series.

  11. I can’t wait to read Jen’s latest book! I have loved the series… can’t wait to see what Sammy does next!

  12. Loves all my visits to NOLA and in a few months I will actually be moving there, a big change from living my entire life (66 years) in SoCal. Really looking forward to my new life in my chosen new home

  13. I went to NOLA with my mother when I was about 19. I was a little too young to really appreciate it (plus I was with my mom). Would love to go back now. Really enjoy books set there.

  14. Never been to Mardi Gras but I hear it is a blast!!!

  15. I have never been to New Orleans. It is on my bucket list.

    • It’s an amazing place to visit!

  16. I have never been to Mardi Gras or New Orleans. Hopefully, one day I will get to visit.

    • I hope you’ll get the chance. It’s an amazing place!

  17. I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast so we went to New Orleans a lot. I love beignets. I’d like the newest book, please.

  18. I like king cakes with cream cheese.

  19. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but it looks like a lot of fun!

  20. I loved taking a street car ride from one end of the line to the other. The French Quarter is beautiful with all the wrought iron, flowers, and cool old buildings. The food is fantastic too. I’ve been there several times and would love to go again. I’d love the first book of this series.

  21. I loved discovering the beignets!

  22. I’d love to win The Dead End Tour. We used to visit New Orleans fairly often when we had friends living there and all our kids were younger. As they’ve grown up, our vacations usually revolve around visiting them, but we have wonderful memories.

  23. We have a winner!


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