Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen,
The Winemaker Detective
(Le French Book, 2013)

If you're interested in the wine-making process, this collection of three stories featuring amateur detectives at work in the French wine country may intrigue you.

Personally, all the technological information distracted me from the stories, and the mysteries were rather bland with little suspense and no danger for the protagonists. The first story, Treachery in Bordeaux, involves an attempt to ruin a distinguished vintner and the detective's efforts to track down the culprit. As noted above, there's more emphasis on the wine-making process than on detecting.

The second tale, Grand Cru Heist, involves murder and the theft of some rare vintage wine. The third, Nightmare in Burgundy, centers on mysterious messages from another era.

Master winemaker Benjamin Cooker, the lead detective, is a bit of a snob, and I didn't find him an appealing character, though his exchanges with his assistant Virgile Lanssien sometimes added a bit of color to the pair.

The series is apparently very popular in France and is being adapted as a television series.

For me, the best the book had to offer are the wonderful descriptions of the art, architecture and landscape of the wine country.

book review by
John Lindermuth

21 May 2016

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