Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review: The Merlot Murders

I am privileged to reside in wine country. Rolling vineyards dot the fields above and below the ridge, vines vibrant with new leaves and growing grapes. Wineries proliferate, offering daily tastings and tours just a stone's throw from my townhouse.

And I don't live in California. So I shouldn't have expected The Merlot Murders (Wine Country Mysteries, Book 1) to take place in Napa, but I did!

The setting is, instead, the wine country of Virginia, which, I will admit with chagrin, I had not realize existed until now. Our heroine, Lucie Montgomery, returns home to her family's vineyard near the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her homecoming is tinged with sadness, for her father has died, and she finds their once-thriving vineyard and home in a shambles. To top it off, there is a new manager, hired by her late father, with a brusk attitude and dubious background.

When someone else dies under suspicious circumstances, Lucie finds herself embroiled in a drama which threatens her family, vineyard and her life!

The plot moves along nicely in Ellen Crosby's debut novel of the series. Lucie is likeable, and the other characters are drawn believably. Crosby investigates the inevitable issues surrounding a homecoming, and the setting and hints at Civil War history help make the scene come alive. There's even maps, and I just love maps!

Memorable Morsels:
  • Pig roast 
  • Sugar cookies 
  • Double chocolate died-and-gone-to-heaven cheesecake
  • Buttermilk fried chicken
  • Reuben, "vegetarian on croissant," iced tea
  • Cheesecake
  • Peach pie
  • Latte (with hazelnut or chocolate)
  • Gooseberry jam
  • Grilled lamb with fresh berry sauce
  • Salsa, goat cheese and tuna omelet(!)
Links to Investigate Further:

Buy the Book: The Merlot Murders
Author's Page on LibraryThing 
Book's Page on LibraryThing

The Final Analysis:

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