Title: Killer Chardonnay
Series: A Colorado Wine Mystery
By: Kate Lansing
ISBN: 0593100182 (ISBN13: 9780593100189)
Author’s Website: http://katelansing.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
A young winery owner won’t let one sour grape ruin the bunch in the first installment of this exciting cozy mystery series.
Parker Valentine has always dreamed of opening her own winery in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. But she gets more than she bargained for when a food and wine critic unexpectedly shows up at Vino Valentine on opening day. A negative review could be fatal for her business, and not only does he seem to hate her chardonnay, he also collapses and dies shortly after drinking it.
Although Parker hoped that the attendees would put a cork in it, soon her winery is at the center of a social media firestorm. With #killerchardonnay trending online, Parker’s business is in danger of closing, and she has no choice but to investigate the murder herself.
To restore her reputation, catch a killer, and keep her struggling business open, Parker needs only one thing: some good proof. (Goodreads)
Killer Chardonnay is the first book in the new series, A Colorado Wine Mystery, by Kate Lansing. I must say, I was engaged quickly and the story kept my interest until the very end. It had many components which I value in a cozy mystery -> engaging characters, a murder with a cornucopia of suspects, sufficient twists and turns to keep this reader guessing until the very end and finally a budding romantic connection (?) – to be explored in subsequent books further ☺
To set the stage for writing this review, I am sitting at my desk with a glass of Chardonnay Riesling, once again reviewing the notes I took while reading this engaging tale.
The story begins with Parker Valentine arranging open bottles of wine behind the countertop in her very own winery, Vino Valentine. It is opening day and I love the enthusiasm that Anita (Parker’s assistant) exudes. While Parker is full of nervous energy and doubting that anyone will even show up to the opening, Anita states:
“People are going to flock here like internet junkies to viral kitten videos. I mean, look at this place.”
And then Parker open’s:
“The sign on the door is made of varnished oak and features a design of clinking glasses. It’s heavy with importance as I flip it from closed to open. And nothing happens. There’s no great tilt to the universe, no angelic chorus overhead, no stampede to get trampled in.”
Shortly upon opening, customers arrive. First, Parker’s best friend Sage and her live-in boyfriend Jason. Then a group of college-age guys and then a couple – who over time begin to bicker and cause a scene (turns out to be Murphy’s Bend Vineyards owners Moira Murphy and her husband). Liam (Parker’s brother) arrives along with friend Reid Wallace (turns out to be a chef hoping to open his own restaurant). During this time another customer walks in – a stocky built man – who looked familiar to Parker – one Gaskel Brown, a critic who has a food and wine blog. This could be good! And then it wasn’t. Turns out the first wine he tasted (Chautauqua Chardonnay) was a killer! I expect this is certainly not the grand opening that Parker envisioned.
The police arrive on the scene and low and behold, the detective attending the death is Eli Fuller – a renowned stoner from high school. And what would a good cozy be without an animal? Zin is Parker’s cat and quite the character.
There are many story-lines that come into play and muddy the waters. Some more interesting that others, but they certainly provide distraction from the real killer. And of course, the start of a romance, possibly? Even though it is well known that Liam’s friends are OFF limits to Parker. Oh well, maybe just this once?
Another feature of a good cozy (okay – in my mind) is how well the food is described. If my mouth waters, I am happy ☺.:
“Toasted flatbread slathered with hummus and slow-roasted garlic. Grilled jumbo shrimp marinated in mango chutney. Thinly sliced flank steak drizzled with chile verde. An Italian spin on ratatouille with basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and a balsamic glaze.”
One of the best things about this new addition to the cozy mystery genre is that I was kept guessing as to “whodunit” until the end. Just the way I like my cozy mysteries. I will eagerly anticipate the next addition to the Colorado Wine Mystery series by Kate Lansing.