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Mischief, Murder, and Merlot–Hallow Wine Weekend
Mischief, Murder, and Merlot
by J.C. Eaton
I enjoyed returning to Two Witches Winery along with Norrie Ellington who is again taking care of the family winery while her sister and brother-in-law fly off to the Philippines in search of a rare insect. She is just in time to manage her part of Lake Seneca’s Hallow Wine Weekend at the same time media arrives to learn about the area’s outstanding Merlot produced this year.
There are shenanigans centered around the cauldron of her winery’s Hallow Wine welcoming display, but the other wineries have vandalism as well. It isn’t too bad until Norrie discovers a fourth person in her display. There were originally only three, and this addition can only be described as dead.
This mystery rates high in complexity as there are several people with possible motives for the murder, including the victim’s wife, mistress, and girlfriend. There are business associates that could be involved and a few of them disappear. Fortunately, Norrie has a great crew who keep the winery, tasting room, and café running as Norrie tries to track down the criminal. She also has a lot of friends who support and help her from neighbors Theo and Don to the gorgeous Stephanie who can distract men with a flip of her hair.
I enjoyed the book; the mystery was well plotted with humor sprinkled throughout. The thing that kept it from being a five star book for me was the number of times Norrie stepped over lines of legal and ethical conduct. As Norrie herself says, “The hamburger bounced around in my stomach the more I thought about what I was going to do. Words like illegal, felony, and incarceration came to mind and they were only a sampling.” A lot of cozy mysteries have the protagonist edging up to conduct that is dangerous and deserves rethinking. Norrie goes too far, and she involves others in activities that could cost them their livelihoods and reputations.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Category: Mystery, Cooking, Humor
Notes: 1. #8 in the Wine Trail Mysteries, but could work as a standalone as the authors are good at explaining the background and characters.
2. The “season” is Halloween and two of the characters are participants in paranormal activities, but the book is definitely not a paranormal book. All of the other characters roll their eyes at and disregard the actions and thoughts of those two characters.
Publication: August 30, 2022—Beyond the Page Publishing
“And you know what the worst part is?” “All the nutcases it will bring out?” “Nope. All the suspects. It’ll be like one big knotted ball of yarn that gets more tangled as soon as someone tries to unravel it.”
I dreamt Donovan’s wife, mistress, and girlfriend had taken over our cauldron, making Macbeth’s witches look like Disney princesses.
Fortified by a second pot of coffee, the six of us sketched out a surveillance plan that we thought would work. Funny, but on paper it was logical and feasible. In reality, it was neither.
Died in the Wool–in pursuit of a murderer
Died in the Wool
by Peggy Ehrhart
Died in the Wool, like the first book in Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit and Nibble Mystery Series, has a calmness that gives me pleasure as I read. Although the main character Pamela sometimes follows inadvisable investigative leads like other cozy mysteries’ main characters, neither her pace of life nor her pursuit of justice is frenetic. I sometimes wonder how some main characters manage to maintain a job while trying to solve the mystery and juggle their many personal issues.
Pamela, like author Ehrhart, enjoys knitting and food, and those passions are evident in Pamela’s life as a member of a knitting club whose meetings also feature snacks or desserts. Ehrhart includes a knitting pattern and recipes in the back of the book, but more pointedly, her descriptions of various foods are detailed and mouth-watering.
The knitting club Knit and Nibble works for weeks producing stuffed animal aardvarks, the school mascot, to sell in support of the football team at Arborfest. Unfortunately there is a murder and the knitting group’s reputation is damaged. Pamela and her friend Bettina try to find the murderer. This cozy has twists and turns with the criminal’s identity discovered only after many understandable, but wrong assumptions and some exciting scenes. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, Knit One, Die Two.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #2 in the Knit and Nibble Series, but works well as a standalone
Publication: August 28, 2018—Kensington Books
She tested several ice-breaking comments in her mind, settling on “Your daughter’s tabouli is delicious.” He turned, looking as startled as if she’d announced a taste for human blood. Terribly shy, Pamela said to herself, awkward in social situations.
At that moment, the sandwiches arrived, on cream-colored oval plates with slender pickle spears tucked alongside. Gobbets of tuna salad and golden streaks of melted cheddar were barely contained by bread that had been grilled to buttery and toasty perfection.
Pamela wasn’t a wary person. She woke up every morning expecting the day to unfold predictably, just the way a knitting project moved predictably toward completion with only an occasional dropped stitch that could easily be picked up again.