Montmartre Mysteries (Winemaker Detective) - Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen, Sally Pane

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

 

                I have a confession to make.  I read part of this while drinking a beer, a Guinness in fact, not wine.

 

I’m really sorry.

 

                This installment of the Winemaker Detective series finds our heroes, Benjamin and that lovable slut Virigile in Paris, supposedly to help a hospital with its grapes but in reality, to solve a mystery involving a friend of Benjamin’s. 

 

                In some ways, this book refers more to previous books in the series, though not to the degree that a first time reader will get lost or confused.  In other ways, the book is poking fun at the series itself, especially the character of Virgile whose amours are the source of cutting remarks here.

 

                Virigile is the wine taster version of James Bond.  He just lacks the gadgets. 

 

                The mystery involves the French Foreign Legion, that almost mythic group that everyone knows and doesn’t know, if you know what I mean.  In some regards, the mystery is a little darker, but the light humor and beautiful touches that make the series stand out are still present.

 

                Benjamin takes a little more of a back seat in this one, as Virgile comes more into his own and not simply as Watson to Benjamin’s wine version of Sherlock.  It’s a pleasant change, and if Cooker is ever retired from the mystery business, Virigile could carry the series on his own. 

 

                The one weakness of the book is actually the setting.  Usually the series carries the reader to small town where the mystery occurs; strangely, the same cannot be said for Paris.  The description isn’t as strong, perhaps because everyone knows Paris, but it’s an interesting weakness, especially when the sections of the book that don’t take place in Paris still have that wonderful description.

 

                Still, that aside, it’s a Wine mystery.  What’s not to enjoy?   If you know someone who misses Murder, She Wrote, who wishes for more international flair, who wants mystery but not much gore – this is for them.

                And for you.