Of Merlot and Murder
A Tangled Vines Mystery, Book #2
By Joni Folger
Author Website: www.jonisauerfolger.com
Brought to you by guest reviewer JoAnne
When the Beckett family decides to make River Bend Winery one of the sponsors at the Lost Pines Food and Wine Festival, Elise Beckett dives into helping out with their booth. Once the festival setup starts, the Beckett family cheer is soured by Divia Larson, a rival vintner and nemesis of Elise’s grandmother, Abigail.
But then Grandma Abigail finds Divia dead in her hotel room, and the police discover that all clues lead back to Abigail. When her grandmother becomes the prime suspect, Elise and her deputy boyfriend Jackson have to work together to clear Abigail. Will Elise be able to untangle the mess of murder and mystery before it’s too late?
While preparing for the Lost Pines Food and Wine Festival, Elise’s family realize that rival vintner Divia has requested the booth catty-corner from them, which brings her closer to make her snide remarks and backhanded compliments to them and everyone else. Plus, she dislikes Abigail because Abby once dated Divia’s husband Garrett back in high school.
After a particularly distasteful scene at the festival between Divia and another vintner, Monique, Abby steps in to try and diffuse the situation, and gets right in the middle of it. So when Divia is found dead later than night, and Abby calls Jackson for help from the hotel, suspicions naturally fall on her.
I absolutely loved this book. While it isn’t technically a cozy – there is some swearing, though not offensive – it is still a great mystery. The characters had a lot of depth and it was easy to get into the story and be carried right along with it as the action progressed. There was a romance going on between Jackson and Elise, but not so much that it overwhelmed the plot; but enough that you knew these two were in a new relationship and trying to find their way around each other.
Yet Elise being who she is: naturally curious and wanting to protect her grandmother even with Jackson’s warnings to stay out of it, she manages not only to drag herself into the investigation, but those of her family members and best friend as well. Which doesn’t bode well for them or for her when Jackson and her grandmother find out what she’s doing (which of course doesn’t stop her).
The ending took me completely by surprise; I was as stumped as Elise and when I found out who the killer is, but it all came together in a nice little package that made complete sense. I fully intend to read the first book in this series, Grapes of Death, and I suggest you do the same. Highly recommended.