Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun, fast moving story; Katie
Cons: Ending a bit too quick, Tessa at times
The Bottom Line:
A deadly party
Set up for charming debut
You’ll want to savor
Full Bodied Debut with Hints of More to Come
When I went to Malice Domestic last month, I had a list of books I planned to buy while I was there, but I’m sure it’s a surprise to no one that I also make multiple spur of the moment purchases. One of those was Decanting a Murder, the debut from Nadine Nettmann. I was so excited about it, I dove into it as soon as I had a break in my reading schedule.
Katie Stillwell’s life revolves around wine. She’s been practicing for her Sommelier Certification while working as a wine expert at a San Francisco restaurant. And this weekend, she is getting the experience of a lifetime – she’s been invited to an exclusive party at Frontier Winery. The winery is normally closed to the public, but it is open this weekend to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Katie’s best friend Tessa works there, and managed to get Katie an invitation to the exclusive event.
The party seems to be going well until Katie hears a scream. When she goes to investigate, she finds the winery’s owner, Mark Plueger, floating in a vat of wine. Suddenly, the party is over, and Tessa is nowhere to be found. Where did she go? Did she have something to do with the murder? Can Katie figure out what is happening?
The book starts out well and never lags in pace. There is always something interesting happening to keep us turning pages, and I had a hard time putting the book down. The ending caught me by surprise, although I wish it had been given a bit more time to breath. While everything is explained, it felt very rushed.
Katie is a strong main character, and I really did like spending time with her. Tessa could be a bit much, seemingly all over the place at times, but most of the time I liked her as well. A couple of the other characters could have been more fully developed, but overall, the rest of the characters are good and provide us with viable suspects. I’ve just finished this book, but I’m already interesting in visiting Katie to find out what happens next to her.
I was bothered by how the detective investigating the case, Detective Dean, seemed to include Katie in his investigation at times. I know enough to know that was a highly unrealistic aspect of the book. However, I was having too much fun to truly be bothered by it.
Instead of wine tips at the back of the book, each chapter is paired with a different wine. The pairings are actually quite clever and give a hint of the action to come. Since there are 31 chapters, there are plenty of suggestions if you want to broaden your pallet after you’ve finished the book.
Decanting a Murder is an enjoyable debut that promises more great mysteries to come. The elements are there to allow this series to age like a fine wine.