My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Vineyard Victims is the 8th book in the Wine Country Mysteries by Ellen Crosby and was published in 2017. I’m very attached to this series and often have to slow myself from devouring it all in one sitting. Today, I was forced to take breaks as I read it on the subway and train to visit my parents, then again on the way back. I still had a few chapters remaining, so while dinner’s cooking, I skated through the final few chapters… what a wild and breathtaking ride!
Lucie Montgomery, a ~30ish winery owner, inherited the Virginia estate from her parents who died separately shortly before the first book opened the series. She’s dating her winemaker, which is often a troublesome combination, and trying to stay away from her English neighbor, a former lover she sometimes fondly remembers. In this caper, she witnesses a car accident that is an exact replica of the one that left her injured and disabled many years ago. This new one also kills a former presidential candidate who lost the election. When she gets a few moments with him before a fiery explosion takes away his life, she’s left to wonder… was it an accident or suicide? And what was the cryptic message he begged her to handle for him?
Crosby knows how to draw you into the mystery. It doesn’t stop there, though. Pages after pages of discussion on the history of wine, the various vintages created by her ancestors, and the connections with all the famous historical figures who lived in the DC and Virginia areas… all leave us fully engulfed in a cast of characters and dynamic setting that are nothing less than brilliant. The mystery in this story was intense, and it had lots of twists and subplots to keep my interest. For some reason, the formatting on the version I read wasn’t keeping me apprised of % complete, and I couldn’t easily look it up… so I didn’t quite know when it would end. When it did, I was a little disappointed, but not too much in the grand scheme of things.
Unfortunately, a character we’ve met before was made a scapegoat. In some ways, I liked it… in others, it felt like a bit of a cheap rip-off as we never had an inkling about him/her previously being potentially bad. That said, people aren’t all black and white, so hidden things sometimes come speeding forward at us like a train. As it unfolded, I shouted in my head, ‘No, no’ but I couldn’t stop this one. I accept the author’s decision, and it made for a strong story, but I wanted another few chapters at the end to fully understand the implications… perhaps a scene or two between the killer and Lucie discussing the whys and how it was kept a secret. Of course, we can make assumptions, but after such investment in him/her, I wanted a more fitting ending.
But… other than that one lapse, in my opinion, the story was powerful. The descriptions of things (wine, vineyards, politics, trials, etc.) were fantastic. Crosby knows how to write a story, and she truly makes you feel part of the action. I can’t wait to pick up the 9th one which recently came out. I’ll almost be current, which is sad, but hopefully there will be a new one on the way in the year!
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.