Thursday, August 6, 2020

Book Review: Killer Chardonnay by Kate Lansing (Colorado Wine Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery
Cons: Handful of four-letter words, but that’s minor
The Bottom Line:
Death at winery
Race to save reputation
Charming, fun debut

Poisoned Opening

Since I don’t drink wine, I almost passed up Killer Chardonnay, the debut from Kate Lansing.  However, I heard some great things about the book when it came out, so I decided to give it a try.  I’m very glad I did.

Parker Valentine’s dream is coming true today with the opening of Vino Valentine in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado.  However, her joy turns to worry when renowned local food and wine blogger Gaskel Brown shows up.  He is notoriously hard to please, and his blog can make or break local restaurants.  After sampling her chardonnay, Gaskel dies, and the police are quick to label it poison.  Everyone is blaming Parker for the crime, and no one is coming to her store for fear they will be next.  In order to save her dream, she has to find the killer.  Can she do it?

This book does a wonderful job of introducing us to the characters in the middle of the action.  We join Parker as her store opens for the first time, and Gaskel is dead within the first few pages.  In that time, we’ve met several key players in the book, including the victim.  That pacing continues throughout the story.  Parker uncovers plenty of secrets and motives before she finally pieces everything together.  I found the solution surprising yet perfectly logical, aka my favorite kind.

Meanwhile, we get to know some wonderful characters.  In fact, there are some enjoyable sub-plots with them that I cared about almost as much as the main mystery.  That’s how strong the characters are right out of the gate, and I appreciated the growth these subplots gave them.  The romance was hot, and it wasn’t just the summer weather while I was reading this book.  And the suspects are just as strong as the series regulars.

This book is written in first person present tense, while most cozy are written in first person past tense.  That was a surprise to me, but I quickly adjusted as I read the book.  There are a handful of four-letter words scattered throughout the book, but that’s worth noting only in passing.

If the book leaves you hungry and thirsty (trust me, the food descriptions are mouthwatering), you’ll be happy to find three recipes at the end along with wine pairing suggestions for each.

Killer Chardonnay is a strong debut that has aged to perfection.  You can bet that I will be back for more when the sequel is released.

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