by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Blood Bayou by Lynn Emery along with an interesting interview with Lynn. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Blood Bayou: A LaShaun Rousselle Mystery By Lynn Emery
Review by Kathleen Costa
Vermillion Parish, Louisiana, is a fascinating, if not, dangerous place rich with myths and legends of creatures and spirits stalking the bayou as well as the evil only man can perpetrate. LaShaun Rousselle’s psychic ability, passed down in her family thru the centuries, gives her a unique perspective when confronted by that which often can’t be explained, especially to her husband and skeptic Chief Deputy Broussard. Whether a loa who can inhabit humans, a bayou monster or maybe a serial killer, inquisitive teens dabbling in the occult with deadly results, cryptic messages in bat’s blood connected to a missing child, a treasure hunter and nightmares of bayou spirits, or three hundred years of secrets and bodies in the swamp, there’s a lot to keep one person very busy and diligent to stay out of harm’s way.
LaShaun Rousselle didn’t always use her psychic abilities for good. Her “bad girl” reputation was justly deserved and one she has difficulty living down. But, shocked by the results of her behavior, devastated by being accused of murder, and saddened by the death of her grandmother, LaShaun made some significant life changes. She left L.A., moved back to her hometown Beau Chene, Louisiana, married the local deputy Chase Broussard, and embraced motherhood with two “exceptional” children, nine-year-old Ellie and four-year-old CJ. The one facet of LaShaun’s life that hasn’t changed is the chaos that arises from her efforts to help others, solve murders, and keep at bay those real and unreal figures who would do harm to her family and friends.
Blood Bayou Earns 5/5 Bayou Monsters … Clever & Engaging Gem!
It’s always a worry when parents are called into the principal’s office, but something is odd about nine-year-old Ellie’s latest infraction. She wasn’t in school and had in her possession someone else’s key chain. Her story about her high school tutor, teen Zee Glapion, being taken away by two people not in uniform and the tutor giving her the keys to retrieve from her locker a notebook seemed far fetch to school authorities and her deputy dad … but not to her mother LaShaun. Again, the couple argues about what school setting would best fit Ellie and her budding abilities: dad wants normality while mother prefers Harmony Charter School with its support from the Third Eye Association. Despite Chase’s suspicions of the TEA and psychic skill in general, school choice is the least of their worries when he gets a call about a dead body. Then … a teenager is arrested for assault, then murder, her creepy family is uncooperative with possible connections to a sinister organization, two TEA operatives are in town discovering one of their own is dead, and a ghost hunter shows up poking his nose into all the drama. Life in the bayou is never boring!
Bayou-rrific! Lynn Emery’s seventh book in her LaShaun Rousselle mystery series was an engaging tale combining the real with the unreal into a fascinating read. I came to the series late, and although the references to past grievances, character involvement, and conflicts were only peripherally explained, it didn’t effect my enjoyment. It just means the rest of the series is on my “must read” queue.
The current investigation is one instigated by LaShaun’s and Chase’s young daughter’s plea for help, what a parent wouldn’t do, and the conflict with accepting psychic realities, complexities of parenting “gifted” children, good and bad secret organizations, and a ghost hunter out for revenge adds several compelling elements to a traditional murder mystery. LaShaun’s involvement becomes more official since she joins the teen’s lawyer, but it sows discord and puts a severe strain on her marriage. These paranormal aspects, mythical creatures, and secret organizations are not overly done, perfect for fans of the genre, and essentially creating a fascinating drama with a realistic tenor, hidden agendas, covert operatives, and the innate conflicts between those that have and those that have not. More than one perilous event occurs until the final showdown puts the family in peril … Kept me swiping the screen!
Fascinating Extra! Lynn Emery was a guest in Kings River Life’s 4/19/23 issue with her article Moonlight, Magic, & Myths of Louisiana. She provided some intriguing insights into the myths and legends of creatures known to haunt Louisiana: loup garou or the rougarou, a Fifolet, and a cryptid in the Honey Springs swamp. She offers historical context, details, and how the stories of these creatures were used in the society. Check it out!
LaShaun Rousselle Mystery
A Darker Shade of Midnight (2011)
Between Dusk and Dawn (2012)
Only by Moonlight (2014)
Into the Mist (2016)
Third Sight Into Darkness (2018)
Devil’s Swamp (2019)
Blood Bayou (2023)
Be a Big Fan of Lynn Emery!
“I write mysteries filled with secrets, betrayal, magic, and murder.” Lynn Emory channels all the charm and mystery of the South in her LaShaun Rousselle Mystery series, but she also pens Joliet Sisters Psychic Mystery series with sisters Charmaine and Jessi using their supernatural abilities to investigate murder. She also has the Dr. Zen Mystery, a forensic sociologist who tracks down killers “literally out of this world,” and the Triple Trouble Mystery series with three unlikely amateur detectives: a soccer mom, a stripper, and a gold digger. Something for every taste.
Facebook: Lynn Emery, Author
Website: Lynn Emery
YouTube: Lynn Emery
Interview with Lynn Emery:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Lynn: I started writing when I was ten years old. I was so in love with murder mysteries after reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie that I decided to write one of my own.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Lynn: Night Magic was released by Kensington Publishing in 1995 for their romance imprint Arabesque. The heroine Savanah St. Julien returns to her hometown to find the community turned upside down by conflict. She falls for a handsome stranger with his own family secrets. A murder and her old childhood nemesis complicate her budding romance and attempts to build a new life.
Lynn: My first published novels were romantic suspense. The writers’ group I joined as an aspiring author was a local chapter of RWA, Romance Writers of America. A published member advised me to try writing romance instead of mystery because it was a bigger market.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Years later I realized the subtext of that conversation. Major traditional publishers rarely offered contracts to Black writers of any genre, but selling a mystery for a Black woman was pretty much impossible. At least with romance, then and now a genre with a huge readership, I’d have a bit more of a chance. Though not by much. She didn’t say all of that, but I finally put the pieces together after learning about the realities of the business and remembering the conversation.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Lynn: Interestingly enough, the LaShaun Rousselle Mystery series grew out of Night Magic, the first novel I wrote and sold. I created the fictional town of Beau Chene and LaShaun was the antagonist of the heroine. Almost ten years later, I thought it would be interesting to show what became of LaShaun, how the events in Night Magic changed her, and to make her the protagonist in her own book. Out of that process came the idea for A Darker Shade of Midnight. I had already decided to write mysteries by then.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Lynn: I want to both entertain and let readers experience the rich diversity of Louisiana. When most people think of Louisiana, they talk about New Orleans. There is so much fascinating history and culture outside that great city.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Lynn: I write five days a week; five double-spaced pages per day is my normal goal. I have a home office set up with everything I need.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Lynn: Right now, mornings work best, two to three hours or until I have five pages. When I worked a day job, I got used to writing for two hours each evening.
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?
Lynn: Now I write an outline for each book, what I call book bibles, but at the beginning of my career I didn’t. For at least the first three books at most I had a paragraph of notes and just wrote from those. Now I create a series bible and a book bible for each novel. I make additions and changes to them as I write.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Lynn: I sold the first book I started before it was finished, which I later learned was very unusual.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Lynn: I was young and knew little about the publishing industry. I was fortunate in that I took the advice to write a romance story at a time when Kensington was looking to buy manuscripts for Arabesque. Monica Harris, the founder of the line, had been hired because she so impressed the owner in her interview for a job as an editor. She made such an impassioned and emphatic argument about starting a line of African-American romances that Walter Zacharias hired her and said, “Now create that line!” Monica suddenly had to cash the check her mouth had written! She went to a round of writers’ conferences in a frantic search to find manuscripts.
I attended one in Louisiana in 1992. I didn’t have much confidence and my book wasn’t finished. According to conventional writing wisdom editors would not be interested in an unfinished book by a first-time author. For those reasons, I didn’t schedule an appointment with Monica or an agent at the conference. Another published author in my RWA chapter was horrified that I hadn’t. She pushed me to approach Monica, coached me on what to do, and pretty much ordered me to obey! LOL After a panel discussion, I introduced myself to Monica (heart pounding) and she gave me five minutes in the hotel lobby to pitch my book. About a month after I sent the proposal, I got the call offering me a contract. I tell this story because it shows the value of networking with other writers. I didn’t go through an initiation of rejections, though I did get rejections much later.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Lynn: A publicist at Kensington arranged a Valentine’s Day book signing at a Walmart in Lafayette, Louisiana. This was maybe a little over a year after my first book came out. A few days later she called sounding very nervous. She apologized profusely for having set it up on the same day that Ernest Gaines would be signing there as well. This was the year Oprah had selected his novel A Lesson Before Dying for her famous book club. She timidly asked if I minded going ahead with my appearance. Ernest Gaines is one of my literary heroes. I took a half second to blurt out “No!” Then I did a little dance after I hung up the phone. When I arrived at the Walmart a little over thirty minutes early a line snaked out the door and he was already signing. Most people had multiple copies of his novels. Mr. Gaines was a bit perplexed to be signing with a romance author, but he was gracious.
I sold more books than the Walmart and Anderson Distributors staff expected (Anderson stocked Walmart with books and magazines back then). I took along my three copies of books by Mr. Gaines and got them signed. He blinked in surprise when I pulled them out of my little tote bag. Oh, yeah. I went prepared! And that’s the story of how I came to own autographed copies of three classics, a photo with my hero, and earned the good will of both Walmart and Anderson local reps.
KRL: How cool! What are your future writing goals?
Lynn: I plan to create at least two new mystery series. I’m also considering submitting one of them to a traditional publisher, but only after I finish all three books in the trilogy.
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Lynn: I already mentioned Agatha Christie and Ernest Gaines. Chester Himes, J. California Cooper, Eleanor Taylor Bland, Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, and Maya Angelou. This is only a partial list. I’ve read a LOT of books since I was a kid and fallen in love with plenty of authors!
KRL: What do you like to read?
Lynn: Mysteries are my all-time favorites. Followed closely by sci-fi and fantasy.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Lynn: I’m a “trekkie,” so Star Trek Discovery is one of my favorites! I love Abbott Elementary, Rookie Feds, and too long a list of British mystery series to name. Top one that comes to mind is Astrid. Favorite recent movies include Nope, Fast Color, The Girl With All The Gifts, The Harder They fall, and the first Black Panther movie. The top of my list for streaming series are Hannah, The Watchmen and Lovecraft Country.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Lynn: Study. Take note on the books you enjoy and don’t enjoy to list why. Then learn from them. Read craft books. Attend writing workshops, and network with writers at every stage of their writing journey. There is something to learn from writers just starting out, those with one or two books, and veterans.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Lynn: I’ve taken classes to learn investigative and interviewing techniques with federal agents. I’ve done one death investigation (non-criminal circumstances). I’ve been designated as an expert witness three times in separate court cases. All this in my career as a social worker.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?
Lynn: All of my links can be found in one handy place: linktr.ee/lynnemery
Enter to win a copy of Blood Bayou by Lynn Emery by making a comment below about southern paranormal: (1) favorite spooky book or movie set in the South, (2) personal spooky anecdote, or (3) any psychics in the family or have you visited one?, or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bayou” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 20, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please be sure to include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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 went up last week.
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My favorite Southern horror movie is Moon of The Wolf with David Janssen. A guilty pleasure, it’s one of my favorite werewolf movies.
I’ve always wanted to visit Louisiana and I’m interested in the stories that surround the area. No stories of my own but my favorite book set in Louisiana, while not spooky, is the Murder She Wrote book Murder in a Minor Key.
My favorite Southern paranormal series is The Tradd Street series by Karen White. It’s set in Charleston SC. I have taken a bayou tour in Louisville and it was a beautiful place, not at all what I expected.
There are no any psychics in the family and I have not visited one.
We have a winner!