"Like many women in their fifties, Emma Golden feels invisible. She lives quietly in her Portland, Oregon bungalow and minds her own business. But her tranquil life is about to change. She is asked to return to the rolling hills of her former wine country home south of the city to supervise a friend’s bed and breakfast inn near Dundee.
Emma arrives at the Westerly Inn during grape harvest. She is under contract to write a book about Oregon wineries, and it’s business as usual until she discovers one of her subjects dead in a wine vat—murdered at his own dinner party.
Cougar Crossing Winery owner Ted Maxell was a ruthless and dishonest newcomer to the northern Willamette Valley wine scene. Many people wanted him gone—including his son, many local winegrowers, and even Emma’s ex-husband, Dwight. Then Maxell’s daughter, Tiffany, calls Emma and begs for assistance. “I know who killed my father,” she wails. When Emma answers Tiffany’s cry for help, she finds herself drawn into the search for a murderer or murderers with secrets worth killing for."
On the face of it, this book isn’t something that would typically attract my attention, but having previously acknowledged that I don’t read a sufficient number of books by females and that most of my books are tilted towards the edgier extremes of the genre I thought I would redress the balance on both scores. When offered the chance to read this and the second Emma Golden mystery, The Difficult Sister I said yes.
A wise decision. I started and finished this 320-odd page book in a day, not something that happens particularly often these days. Cliché time….a bit of a page-turner then.
Our setting is the wine country of Oregon, a subject and setting our author has a familiarity with, which shows. I learned a bit about the process of wine production and how a winery operates without getting drowned in a glut of facts and technical detail.
Our main character; Emma is interesting, capable, intelligent but not without her issues or baggage. Emma is returning to her painful past, trying to pick up the pieces of a damaged friendship and help a friend overcome the same difficulties with alcohol that Emma herself has beaten. She’s immersed back into a familiar community including an ex-husband, but it’s a community and a circle that she previously turned her back on and fled from. This in itself carries a threat for Emma, exposing herself back to the temptations of the bottle.
Our victim, a winery owner is a pretty loathsome individual, so we have no shortage of candidates for the crime. Ted Maxell is beaten and drowned in a vat of his own wine. As the story progresses, Emma under the guise of researching her forthcoming book, discovers more about Maxell and both his business dealings and personal behaviour and relationship. Hell after half the book, I would have been tempted to kill him myself if someone hadn’t beaten me to the punch. A second death follows and the plot deepens.
Overall – a really interesting book and something a bit different from my usual crime fiction reads. The sideshow with Emma’s involvement in her friend’s troubles helped fleshed the story out and give it more meat on the bones and added to my overall enjoyment. I’m looking forward to Nedry’s second book – The Difficult Sister (I could say that’s something I know all about, but that would be mean, so I won’t……oops, already have)
4 from 5
Judy Nedry’s website is here.
Thanks to the author for my copy.