The Beckett family is hard at work to make their booth a success at the Lone Pines Food and Wine Festival. While the Becketts’ main competition and Elise’s grandmother’s arch nemesis, Divia Larson, goes out of her way to bring the sour grapes, the business at River Bend Winery’s booth is booming. But then Elise’s grandmother discovers Divia dead in her hotel room, and she becomes a prime suspect in the woman’s murder. Elise must work together with her sheriff boyfriend in order to clear her grandmother’s name and to discover the real killer.
Of Merlot and Murder is the second book in the “A Tangled Vines” series that features Elise Beckett as the main character. I didn’t realize that when I picked up the book, but the story wasn’t so reliant on the first book that I felt lost while reading this one.
What bothered me most about this book was that it’s stated that Elise nearly died in the last book because she investigated a murder, and now in this one she’s back at it. Her family doesn’t stop her, either. Elise’s siblings and friends protest slightly before helping her investigate. Only Elise’s grandmother and her boyfriend, the sheriff investigating the case, are wholly opposed to her participation. I guess I understood that she wanted to clear her grandmother’s name and that asking questions didn’t seem all that dangerous. I don’t think that I would’ve made the same decisions, though.
I did like the character’s reactions to the murder and the investigation. Elise felt like she needed to support her grandmother and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. Jackson, her boyfriend, also seemed sufficiently annoyed whenever she stuck her nose into police business. But by far, I really liked how Elise’s family rallied around their own.
This book is a cozy mystery, meaning it’s less about the police procedures and blood and gore. Instead, it’s an amateur detective who wades through family drama and gossip to reach their conclusion. It’s much more sedate than police procedural mysteries. While this book confirmed to me that I’m really not a fan of this genre, I can see how it holds appeal. This book is a leisurely mystery. There’s a lot of drama that’s fun to read and quite a bit of intrigue.
I’d recommend this book to a reader looking for a murder mystery that’s not all that heavy on violence.
Of Merlot and Murder by Joni Folger will be published as a paperback by Midnight Ink on September 8, 2014.
**I received an advanced copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.