A Pairing to Die For
Colorado Wine Mystery #2
By Kate Lansing
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
A young winemaker is over a barrel when her new boyfriend is accused of murder in this delightful cozy mystery.
It’s fall in Boulder, Colorado, and the leaves aren’t the only things changing. Parker Valentine, owner of Vino Valentine, is finally settling in to her winery and her new relationship with Reid Wallace, a local chef. But their delicate pairing is endangered when Reid’s estranged family comes into town to celebrate the opening of his new restaurant.
Reid and his family are immediately at loggerheads, given their often acidic temperaments, but Parker still wants to make a good first impression. However, her efforts might be in vain when Reid’s sous chef is found dead in the alley behind the restaurant, and Reid is implicated in the murder. In order to save Reid, Parker will have to find the real killer, even if the truth is difficult to swallow. (Goodreads)
A Pairing to Die For, the second Colorado Wine Mystery, is well executed with engaging characters and an interesting winemaking backdrop. I have not read the series’ first entry Killer Chardonnay but easily jumped right into the action. There are a few references to the prior book but nothing that would spoil the mystery.
It is grape harvest season, and even though winemaker Parker does not grow the fruit herself, she must be available at a moment’s notice to work the grapes. So time is limited to meet her chef boyfriend’s estranged family for dinner, which definitely does not go well, and she is stunned when Reid is arrested the next morning, charged with murdering his sous chef Oscar. To make matters worse, Reid’s family has no interest in posting bail or helping him in any way leaving it up to Parker to put on her sleuthing cap and find the real killer. But, things are not easy…there is an eye witness and Reid is secretive and not forthcoming. Parker’s best friend Sage, a lawyer, steps up to represent Reid but cannot help Parker because of client privilege. Parker does not give up and even faces danger to save Reid.
A Pairing to Die For is written in present tense, which is usually not my favorite to read, but I quickly adjusted to it and greatly enjoyed my time with Parker and her friends and family. Parker is an engaging sleuth, loyal and determined. Though she finds herself in a dire situation, she never comes across as “too stupid to live”. I liked the other recurring characters, too, including Parker’s mother, brother, and assistant. I look forward to seeing the evolution of Parker and her mother’s relationship. As expected, Reid’s family is unlikable…judgmental, snobby, and overall unpleasant and reprehensible. Readers will feel little sympathy for any of them and their eventual circumstances.
The winemaking backdrop is interesting, and I learned a bit about the process. These scenes and information do not become too tedious or take away from the mystery. The mystery is well thought out, but it is rather easy to figure out the killer’s identity. The motive, however, kept me guessing for much of the book. The pace of the book is brisk other than lagging a touch in the middle of the story.
I liked A Pairing to Die For and will definitely seek out more books in the Colorado Wine Mystery Series. Recommended for any cozy mystery fan.