Uncorking a Lie
A Sommelier Mystery #2
Midnight Ink, May 2017
After being introduced in Decanting A Murder, Sommelier Katie Stillwell returns in Uncorking a Lie. Paul Rafferty is a regular customer at the restaurant where Katie works. When he is the highest bidder for a rare bottle of wine at an auction, he hosts a dinner for the uncorking at his home and invites Katie. Katie is the only one there that is not part of an apparently tight knit group of friends, who are most curious about who she is and why she was included. Though she is a guest, she offers her expertise at uncorking the special bottle of wine. After the wine is served, she is immediately suspicious that the wine is not what the label says and in fact is neither old nor special. When she shares her doubts with Cooper, Paul’s assistant who is seated next to her, he decides to go to the wine cellar to retrieve the second bottle of wine Paul bought at the auction. When Cooper doesn’t return, Katie goes to get him only to find him unconscious at the bottom of the stairs. From there the mystery really kicks up. There are deaths and other attacks on people connected to the wine. Katie is clearly in danger. But why? What has she stumbled into?
I love the premise of this series. The author is a sommelier and her knowledge shines through. She is able to give readers a good bit of wine history and general information on how wine ages without it becoming preachy. The plot is well developed though I strongly suspected who the culprit was well before the case was solved.
The series is set in and around the Bay area, from San Francisco to Sonoma. The author really puts the reader in that location including enough local details to make it come alive for readers.
The one thing that keeps it from rating higher for me is that regardless of how smart Katie might be, she has a tendency to go rushing off into obviously dangerous situations. She seems to feel as though only she is capable of handling even the most dangerous people. This is known as the “too stupid to live” flaw of many mystery protagonists. For me, as much as I really liked this book, if the author doesn’t give Katie a bit more common sense, I won’t be reading any future books in the series.
Reviewed by guest reviewer Caryn St. Clair, August 2017.