The Merlot Murders
A Wine Country Mystery #1
Scribner, August 2006
Lucie Montgomery is drawn home to Virginia, to the family vineyards, when she receives news her father has died in a shooting accident. She has been living in French wine country after an automobile accident crippled one of her legs. From the moment she arrives in Virginia, barely in time for her father’s funeral, she is beset with demands for money. Some are to repay a small fortune in loans in order to keep the winery running, which may mean selling the vineyard that has been in the family for more than two hundred years. There are even those who want to be paid for snippets of information when it comes down to solving the mystery.
You see, all too soon it becomes clear her father did not die in an accident, but was murdered. Then, after speaking with her uncle Fitz, he, too, is murdered. And when Lucie is run off the road one night, it becomes apparent that she, too, may have become a target. Why? Is it because she refuses to sell the property, sure that the business can be saved when properly run? Her brother and her sister, co-inheritors, certainly have differences of opinion.
So who is the killer? One of her family? Or could it be the mysterious consortium who wants to buy the property to build a theme park?
This is one of those books that has a good mystery. It also teaches the process of winemaking in a most engaging way. However, I’m sorry to say my enjoyment stopped there. I found the characters singularly unlikeable, even Lucie. The brother was an obnoxious cad, and Lucie herself a terrible judge of character. I guess if you want to read about a dysfunctional family along with the wonderfully descriptive details of the vineyard, this will suit quite well.
Reviewed by Carol Crigger, November 2020.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel