Thursday, May 21, 2020

Book Review: Murder Most Fermented by Christine E. Blum (Rose Avenue Wine Club Mysteries #2)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Decent plot, setting
Cons: Weak characters, one plot element unresolved
The Bottom Line:
Buried in garden
Second book is a mixed bag
I want to like more

Halsey Discovers Where the Bodies are Buried

When I read the first book in the Rose Avenue Wine Club last year, I concluded I’d give the second one a try since I already had it.  It’s taken me this long to get to Murder Most Fermented.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed my opinion of the series that much.

Annie Hall, Halsey to her friends, is enjoying her new life on Rose Avenue in Mar Vista, California.  However, she’s not so sure about the gift her friends in her neighborhood wine club have given her for her birthday – a patch of dirt.  Okay, really, it’s a plot in the neighborhood garden where plots are highly sought after.  Halsey is hoping to turn her section into a very small vineyard.

She’s just trying to dig up some dirt when she makes a startling discovery, the buried body of a missing elderly neighbor.  Obviously, the woman didn’t bury herself in the dirt, but who could have killed her?  With the police once again considering Halsey a suspect, she and her friends have to dig in to find out what really happened.

The plot was definitely stronger in this book than in the first.  There are some interesting developments in the neighborhood that might or might not play into the murder, and I enjoyed seeing how everything unfolded.  There are some sub-plots, but they don’t take over from the main plot.  There was one major aspect of the plot that seems to get dropped, but the majority of things are successfully wrapped up by the end of the book.

Once again, the action takes place over several weeks.  However, this time I was expecting that, so I didn’t have any frustration trying to make a timeline work until I discovered this.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel like we get to know the characters any better than we did in the first.  Halsey is fairly well developed as are one or two others, but that’s it.  I struggled to keep all the women of the wine club straight, and it didn’t help that there are three women whose names start with P in the club.

I continue to love the Southern California setting.  While I haven’t spent much time in Mar Vista itself, I have spent time in the surrounding neighborhoods, so I can easily picture the area where the action takes place.  I always find that fun.

I don’t drink wine, but if you do, you’ll enjoy the wine list and suggested wine pairings at the end of the book.

The series continues to be a mixed bag for me.  I wanted to enjoy Murder Most Fermented more than I did, but I am glad I gave the series a second chance overall.  This book is definitely a step in the right direction.

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