Of Merlot and Murder
by: Joni Folger
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: September 8, 2014
Source: Midnight Ink via NetGalley
Foul play at the festival
When her family's winery becomes one of the sponsors at the Lost Pines Food and Wine Festival, Elise Beckett's spirits soar at the chance to help with their booth. But as the festival gets underway, her cheerful mood turns sour when rival vintner Divia Larson is found dead.
With all clues pointing to her grandmother as the prime suspect, Elise and her deputy sheriff boyfriend team up to clear her name. But Divia's murder is as complex as a fine wine, with a strong bouquet of suspicion, bitter notes of betrayal, and more than a hint of danger. Will Elise and Jackson be able to untangle the mess before another victim is corked?
This was by far the best cozy mystery that I have read so far this year. The characters were very likeable and everything that happened was realistic. Considering that the other cozy mysteries I have read included characters that talked to themselves or other inanimate objects, this was refreshing. I was starting to believe that all cozy mysteries had to focus on outrageous characters that could not exist in the real world.
Of Merlot and Murder is the story of Elise Beckett and her inability to keep her nose out of police business. After the murder of her grandmother’s rival, Divia Larson, Elise feels compelled to drag her siblings and best friend into the investigation in order to make sure that her grandmother is cleared as a suspect. Incidentally, her boyfriend Jackson Landry is the lead investigator on the case and he is constantly reminding her that she needs to let him do his job and stay out of it. One would think that this would be easy since Elise had already gotten close to getting herself killed while she was investigating her uncle’s murder a few months prior. Needless to say, Elise is not a member of law enforcement. She is a horticulturist working for her family’s winery but she thinks that she is Nancy Drew. She just can’t help herself.
There is a large suspect pool that made it a little difficult to keep up with everything. Everyone had a secret so that made it a challenge to figure out who the killer actually was. Oddly enough, that’s what made the book entertaining. Just when I thought that I had it all figured out, the author threw a curveball. There is a great message about family throughout the book as well. Of Merlot and Murder is the second book in the series and I just may have to go back and read it.
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