I’ve always been impressed with the Great Escapes blog tours. I picked up Decanting A Murder through this network, and it proved to be a really enjoyable experience from start to finish! If you like cosy mysteries – or even crime dramas, you may well find things on these tours that you’ll enjoy.
I was all set to read Decanting a Murder when the Clean Sweep Challenge arrived on my doorstep, so this is the first I completed for that challenge. But let’s start at the beginning – with the blurb – but make sure you get down to the giveaway at the end!
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2016)
Paperback: 264 pages
Katie Stillwell focuses on two things in her life: work and practicing for her Sommelier Certification with her blind tasting group. The exam was supposed to be the hardest part of her week, but that was before a body was found at an exclusive Napa Valley winery party.
When all the evidence points to Katie’s best friend, the outspoken and independent Tessa, Katie drops everything to clear Tessa’s name. Using her deductive wine skills, she tries to track down the real killer. But when repeated attempts are made on her life, Katie discovers that everyone’s secrets must be uncorked―including her own.
I like wine. I also enjoyed visiting wineries in Sonoma County, California when I was travelling. So reading about wine-tasting, the exams, and the absolute disaster of failing the tasting section, is something I can identify with. So Katie Stilwell is a heroine I am pre-disposed to admire. She’s level headed, bright, witty, charming, and none too pleased to find her old friend up to old tricks, even if she does appear to be holding down a plum job as the winery’s wine club organiser. The trouble is that Tessa has, let’s call it a failure to focus on things in life, which leads to trouble. Like being the only person unaccounted for when the wine boss is found murdered – with Tessa’s bottle opener in his back. But Katie is on the job, out to clear her friend. And Katie has better claims to crime solving than many others – her father is a respected detective, she sort of started to follow in his footsteps but got diverted into wine, and anyway, the steps in detecting which wine is which demands the same attention and focus as crime solving. So, Katie steps in and help the cops to the correct conclusion with not too much treading on toes, trampling evidence or getting herself practically murdered in the process.
Although I often found Tessa irritating – since she is just the sort of person who irritates the hell out of me, and it’s a credit to the author that she is so real! – this book is a highly enjoyable page turner. The mystery is just right, the clues are liberally scattered about among the red herrings, the characters are believable and well fleshed-out, and the denouement handled extremely well. There are perhaps a few journeys up and down California highways that make me wonder about Katie’s mind, but those probably seem normal to Californians. There are possibilities of love interests that are on-off (mainly off) but which might point to further developments if this turns into a series. And I hope it does. It was thoroughly enjoyable, with characters you’d be happy to know better (even Tessa has some redeeming qualities).
As I said in my short summary for the challenge:
A highly enjoyable crime thriller set in the wine-lands of the Napa Valley. The author knows her subject through and through, and provides enough twists and misdirection to satisfy the most jaded crime reader. A real page turner, despite the irritating friend.
I give it a Goodreads 4 star, which equates to 5 stars on Amazon. More, please, Ms Nettmann!
Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has traveled to wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany, and every region in France. When she’s not visiting wine regions or dreaming up new mysteries, her travel articles have appeared in AAA Hawaii, New Mexico Journey, Modern Luxury Hawaii, and Inspirato. Nadine is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in California with her husband.