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Death in the Vines by M. L. Longworth
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Death in the Vines (2013)

by M. L. Longworth

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The owner of the winery that Helene Paulik works for has discovered that random bottles of wine are disappearing, some very rare, some not-so rare, and they know it is an inside job. Judge Antoine Verlaque hires a former wine thief turned connoisseur to help investigate.

A young woman is found raped & strangulated, while recovering in the hospital she suddenly dies from heart failure; an older woman w/ the onset of Alzheimer's who causes an untold amount of problems for her neighbors goes missing, eventually to be found dead (coshed in the head w/ a rock) in the aforementioned vineyard; and third woman is found dead, also raped & strangulated in her apartment.

Verlaque requests the aid of his girlfriend, law professor, Marine Bonnet with investigating the disappearance of Marine's neighbor, the woman w/ Alzheimer's.

I can not quite put my finger on why I didn't particularly care for this one; I think maybe it was incomplete.

We were never told much about the two women who were raped & murdered; there wasn't enough story of the missing wine; and the thing I found really off was when one of the suspects turned out to be the newest member of Verlaque's cigar club, another member got very nasty rude w/ Verlaque for doing his job and questioning the man.

This book also lacked the rich dining experiences & personal touch between Verlaque & Marine.

From my experience, every series has it's disappointing installment, so far as I have read, this is the one. I have 2 more remaining in the series.... I hope the others read better. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jun 17, 2018 |
Love this series. Think it is a readalike for Louise Penny and Donna Leon.
  Yllom | Sep 17, 2014 |
It's late summer in Aix-en-Provence, and nearing time for the grape harvest. Local law enforcement are investigating attacks on several local women that resulted in their deaths. Are they looking for one perpetrator or multiple perpetrators? The timing suggests that the attacks could be related, but there doesn't seem to be a common link between the murdered women. Juge d'Instruction Antoine Verlaque is on the case, with occasional assistance from his law professor girlfriend, Marine Bonnet. Meanwhile, some of the best bottles of wine are disappearing from the cellar of a local winery. The estate's manager just happens to be married to a Police Commissioner, so somehow her husband and his colleagues must find time to look into the wine thefts as well. Then the murder cases and the wine theft case unexpectedly merge...

I correctly guessed the identity of the perpetrator(s) well before the investigators did, and the motive for the murders wasn't adequately explained. However, the Provence location and other elements of the setting made up for the minor deficiencies in the mystery plot.

Although this is the third book in the Verlaque and Bonnet series, it was my first exposure to the series. I was intrigued by the difference in the criminal justice system, particularly that of an investigating judge. Aix-en-Provence is a tourist destination, but it is also a small city where long-time residents know each others' history. While Verlaque is not originally from Aix, his girlfriend, Marine, has roots there, and her acquaintance with several key witnesses is useful to the investigation of the crimes. With its mixture of personal and professional elements, the book has the feel of both a cozy and a police procedural, leaning just a bit more toward the police procedural. Cozy readers with a low tolerance for swearing might want to give this one a try since the swearing is done in French and will be less jarring for English speakers. The setting was the biggest draw for this armchair traveler, but the book has plenty of elements to appeal to readers with other interests, including wine connoisseurs, foodies, and perhaps cigar connoisseurs and vintage car enthusiasts. Warmly recommended.

This review is based on an electronic advanced reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ( )
  cbl_tn | Sep 9, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143122444, Paperback)

A crime wave jolts Aix-en-Provence in the third delightful Verlaque and Bonnet mystery
 
Fans of Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri, mystery lovers, Francophiles, and foodies will adore this who-done-it with a beautiful European setting. In her riveting follow-up to Death at the Chateau Bremont and Murder in the Rue Dumas, M. L. Longworth evokes the sights and sounds of late-summer Provence, where the mistral blows and death comes in the most unexpected places.
            Olivier Bonnard, the owner of Domaine Beauclaire winery, is devastated when he discovers the theft of a priceless cache of rare vintages. Soon after, Monsieur Gilles d’Arras reports that his wife, Pauline, has vanished from their lavish apartment. As Judge Antoine Verlaque and Commissioner Paulik tackle the case (with a little help from Marine Bonnet), they receive an urgent call: Bonnard has just found Madame d’Arras—dead in his vineyard.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:29 -0400)

Winery owner Olivier Bonnard is devastated when he discovers that a priceless cache of rare vintages has been stolen from his private cellar. Soon after, Monsieur Gilles d'Arras arrives at Aix-en-Provence's Palais de Justice to report another mysterious disappearance: his wife, Pauline, has vanished from their lavish apartment. Madame has always been as tough as nails, but in recent weeks she's been wandering around town in her slippers and crying for no reason. As the mistral arrives to temper the region's late-summer heat, Commissioner Paulik receives an urgent call from Bonnard: he's just found Pauline d'Arras dead in his vineyard. Verlaque and Bonnet are once again investigating in what will prove to be their most complicated case yet.… (more)

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