Author: Ellen Crosby
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Series: Wine Country Mystery Series #6
I didn’t want to kill Paul Noble. Yes, I said I did. Worse, I said it in a public place. In my defense, half a dozen people at that same meeting chimed in. “Get in line” or “join the club” or “you and me both.”
It was a figure of speech, and everyone in the room—twenty-five northern Virginia winemakers like me—knew it. At least that’s what I thought at the time. So when I found Paul hanging from a beam a few weeks later in the old fieldstone barn he’d converted into an artist’s studio, the first thing I thought was, “Oh, my God, someone really did it.”
In Crosby's solid sixth wine country mystery (after 2010's Viognier Vendetta), the apparent suicide of Paul Noble, a wine importer and distributor with lots of enemies, takes Virginia vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery to the vineyards of California's Napa and Sonoma valleys in search of answers. Lucie and her former lover, winemaker Quinn Santori, dig through the past of a group of young biochemists from the Nixon era, who called themselves the Mandrake Society. Noble's death turns out not to be the only mysterious one connected to the society, but it may hold the key to a coverup, a murder, and a determined killer. Meanwhile, Lucie and Quinn must deal with the question of their own future. Can they mend their strained relationship? While the element of intrigue falls a bit flat, wine aficionados and those fond of the San Francisco Bay Area will be well rewarded.