Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Corked By Cabernet - Michele Scott

Corked By Cabernet
A Wine Lover’s Mystery
Michele Scott
Berkley Prime Crime


Nikki Sands is the manager of Malveaux Estates, an operation in the Napa Valley that includes a winery and a hotel and spa. She and Derek Malveaux finally decided to live together, and Nikki is busy moving her stuff into Derek’s home. While there, Derek’s brother, Simon, asks a favor. A huge, enormous favor. It seems that Simon’s new guru needs a place to hold his latest retreat. And Simon volunteered the hotel and spa. Guru Sansibaba and his group, including his wife and three grown children, will be arriving in a week. Since the entry fee for enlightenment at the feet of Sansibaba is a cool $100,000, it’s more than clear that everyone will expect top-flight service.

When the group arrives, it’s hardly the hippy-dippy bunch Nikki expected. They are just as demanding as she feared. She also finds it not a little ironic that the man who teaches a stress-free existence has such a dysfunctional family. But, the show must go on, and Nikki leads a dinner trip aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. During the trip, Nikki and the guru’s two daughters (one of them seriously inebriated) find Iwao Yamimoto, a member of the group, dead. Someone slit his throat and stuffed a cabernet cork in his mouth. Perhaps someone took exception to his characterization of the guru’s program as “horseshit.”

There have been several installments in this series, (SILENCED BY SYRAH, A VINTAGE MURDER) but newcomers will have no problems jumping in at this point. The murder takes place on a moving train, lending a bit of an Agatha Christie air to the proceedings. The guests are all strangers to the area, providing a new and interesting pool of suspects. The author does a great job at delineating each character and suggesting compelling motives for each. For those so inclined, there are recipes and wine pairings scattered throughout the story. You don’t need to know anything about wine to enjoy this mystery. CORKED BY CABERNET is the most consistently entertaining entry in the series to date.

Rating: 7 ½
February 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22644-5 (paperback)


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