Summer in Bordeaux and a heat wave is destroying the grape crop so the vintners are already on edge when a car accident brings in the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgil, drawing some unwanted attention to some personal, dirty secrets behind some of the most prestigious wines in all of France.
This is the sixth book in The Winemaker Detective Mysteries series, though it’s only the second book of the series that I’ve read. The idea of mysteries, using vineyards and wine as the backdrop, seemed really clever.
I didn’t enjoy the first book I read, but this one was easier for me to get in to and follow. Still, it didn’t have a deep draw and I had to really focus my attention and force myself to finish it.
The book is quite short – only 164 pages, making it more of a novelette than a novel – and yet we get introduced to characters, an incident, an investigation, and a resolution. Clearly we don’t spend a lot of time setting up the story. We jump in and wait for the big personality to arrive to carry the book.
Through the years of reading and reviewing I’ve come to learn that I do not enjoy most cozy mysteries. The cozier, the worse for my tastes and this was about as cozy as you can get.
I think that this book relies on the reader to be familiar with the Detective Winemaker, and to enjoy his method of detecting. I am neither and really found the book slow (slow? with only 164 pages?). It seems contrary but the book needed more. More development of the characters. More development of the story. More time to follow our hero and his efforts to solving the crime.
This leads to the question: Why do we read mysteries? Everyone has their own reason but for me it’s to enjoy a story and a mystery, specifically, to have a challenge for myself as well. This just doesn’t quite cut it, though fans of ‘cozies’ may really like this.
Looking for a good book? Mayhem in Margaux, by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen, is a cozy mystery set in French wine country. It’s a fast read, which fans of the form may find appealing, but the book could have used a bit more body.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Mayhem in Margaux
authors: Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen
series: Winemaker Detective Mysteries #5
publisher: Le French Book (NY)
paperback, 164 pages