My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3 stars to Ellen Crosby‘s The Merlot Murders. I was very much looking forward to reading this book and in the end, I was glad I did. It was a complex whodunit mystery with a few side stories and a great new series full of interesting characters, settings and possibilities.
Lucie returns home to Virginia from France after her father passes away. Some whispered it was murder, but her siblings just want to sell the family home and winery to be able to move on. With a new vintner, and some very distinct changes in personality of former friends and family, the 2 years Lucie’s been gone since her car accident seem to have resulted in a signficantly new landscape.
Lucie is determined to keep the winery and through a few deals and the will reading, she believes she can afford to keep it open, assuming she doesn’t fall prey to the killer who seems to be out for her family. After uncovering a few truths, some hidden money and more motives that she could imagine, the surprise killer is one of the trusted.
1. The setting and backdrop are fantastic. The land and environment is beautifully described. The wine-making process is detailed but not boring. The characters are clear and match Virginia expectations.
2. Lucie is an admirable protagonist. She has her flaws but she is determined and is very real. I would like to be friends with her.
1. The ending is abrupt. As is typical for this type of story, the killer is revealed and the true motives become clear. But then it ends with a one-page wrap up of what happens next. I want to know how Lucie handles the new money, understand more about the necklace and papers found with it, and learn what happened to this year’s wine harvest. While I’m sure some are covered in the next book of the series, I think an additional chapter was needed to roll out the ending of this story in a typical Virginian drawl…………
2. Lucie is flawed which is perfect for any hero or heroine; however, her taste in men is quite bad. For such a smart woman, she seems to allow her boyfriends to do things she wouldn’t let anyone else in her life get away with. I’m not sure I believe that she was just blinded with love over Phillipe or Greg or anyone else. I think she should be a little smarter in this area.
I really appreciate the value of this new series. It’s not a cozy, but it’s not quite a thriller. It’s a good whodunit mystery with some great characters and lots of possibilities. I look forward to picking up another story in this series.