Author: Jean Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen
Publisher: Le French Book
Part of a Series: The Winemaker Detective
Type of book: France, translation, mystery, murder, cognac, status, wine, new vs old, solving the mystery, romance, power of women
Year it was published: 2015
The heirs to one of the oldest Cognac estates in France face a hostile takeover by foreign investors. Renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to audit the books. In what he thought was a sleepy provincial town, he is stonewalled, crosses paths with his first love, and stands up to high-level state officials keen on controlling the buyout. Meanwhile, irresistible Virgile mingles with the local population until a drowning changes the stakes.
I have to say that the characters are the memorable part of the book, although I felt that one barely glimpses into their inner thoughts and souls. The authors have done an excellent job on drawing the characters' outside personalities, but not their inner thoughts and actions. My favorite ones included Pierre, a sensitive artist type, then Virgile who seems to be Casanova reincarnated with a taste for elderly women, Marie-France who is elegant and discreet and has no qualms about incest. (An interesting fact: I read The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras and there are also big hints of incest between the nameless girl and her younger brother, Paulo.) The other characters didn't seem to shine as much as I would have wanted.
I'm not sure what I should have learned from the book
The story is written in third person narrative from Virgile's, Benjamin's, Marie-France's and Sheila's points of view. I have to admit that I didn't understand the twists and turns of the mystery well and I also lacked understanding for how one of the characters is best described as despicable. Maybe something was lost in translation? The story also felt more of told than show and I think I wanted to get deeply into the characters' thoughts.
(From France Virtual Book Tours)
I'm not sure if cozy is the right description for this book, but the book does feel kind of light hearted and something to act as escapism into the fine world of nobility and wealth. I hadn't read the previous books of the series, so I'm only coming here as a newbie into this book. I feel that the story had glimmer and potential, but I feel as if one should be familiar with previous books in order to understand the characters in this one. I will say that a few characters are unforgettable and are memorable. I also would have wanted more character exploration instead of something that seemed to be on the surface, but again, maybe previous books add to characters. If you're looking for an escapist read, it can be a good stand-alone book, but if you're the type that loves to get inside the characters' heads, then its not a good stand-alone and previous books would be recommended.
This is for France Virtual Book Tours
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)