Monday, April 4, 2016

French Wine, Gourmet Meals, and Mysteries

Benjamin Cooker, famous vintner and author of the Cooker Guide, which describes the wines of various regions in France, is also an amateur detective. Mysteries just seem to fall in his path as he pursues his work of wine tasting and consulting with the estates about problems with wine. His young assistant, Vergile, participates in solving the mysteries and tasting wine, His wife, although in the background, adds a domestic touch to the series.

The Winemaker Detective consists of three novellas. In the first, Benjamin is faced with a yeast infection that threatens to ruin a friends vintage. In the second, the theft of a most of an available vintage leads to murder and a more typical mystery. In the third, Benjamin has been inducted into a famous wine society, the Tulips. While there he finds the townsfolk upset by passages written on buildings and again murder crops up.

The best part of these books is the description of wine and gourmet meals. The wine growing regions of France form the background for the series and are lovingly described. It makes you want to visit and taste the delicacies of each area. The mysteries are interesting, particularly when, like the first novella, the focus is on wine-making.

The mysteries themselves, particularly the first one, rely heavily on coincidence for a solution. This makes it difficult to identify the culprit until the very end. Although not typical mysteries, the books have enough interesting detail about French wine and the regions where the grapes are grown that I didn't miss the search for clues. 

If you enjoy wine and food and aren't too anxious for a traditional detective story, you'll enjoy these books.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.