“According to Napoleon, in victory you deserve champagne, in defeat you need it.”
Lucie Montgomery’s discovery of her grandfather’s Parisian romance unlocks a series of shocking secrets in the gripping new Wine Country mystery.
In 1949, during her junior year abroad in Paris, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis bought several inexpensive paintings of Marie-Antoinette by a little-known 18th century female artist. She also had a romantic relationship with Virginia vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery’s French grandfather – until recently, a well-kept secret.
Seventy years later, Cricket Delacroix, Lucie’s neighbor and Jackie’s schoolfriend, is donating the now priceless paintings to a Washington, DC museum. And Lucie’s grandfather is flying to Virginia for Cricket’s 90th birthday party, hosted by her daughter Harriet. A washed-up journalist, Harriet is rewriting a manuscript Jackie left behind about Marie-Antoinette and her portraitist. She’s also adding tell-all details about Jackie, sure to make the book a bestseller.
Then on the eve of the party a world-famous landscape designer who also knew Jackie is found dead in Lucie’s vineyard. Did someone make good on the death threats he’d received because of his controversial book on climate change? Or was his murder tied to Jackie, the paintings, and Lucie’s beloved grandfather?
I always enjoy these entries to the wine country mysteries, as I’m assured of learning new facts about viticulture and the historical areas of Virginia. In this episode, protagonist Lucie Montgomery (owner with her family of the Montgomery Estate Vineyard) discovers a DB (dead body) in her fields—the guy she was supposed to have met to consult about problems with her sickly grapes.
Her winemaker-fiancé Quinn is quick to provide support, but it’s just one of several threads and I’m still trying to decide whether or not I like the Jackie Kennedy inclusion. She is also anticipating the arrival of her 93 year old French grandfather for a birthday celebration with a local friend. There are enlightening discussions on the impact of climate change to certain grapes and a comparison of GMOs with hybrids. Additionally, a major sub-plot involves the daughter of her birthday friend and the big reveal regarding her book and the early women art masters tied into the mystery of Jackie O.
The well-plotted narrative delves deeply into the family drama anticipation of a mini-family reunion with her beloved grandfather and her artistic sister’s commission for the art exhibition that will feature renown paintings tied to the books’ announcement.
I really loved The Angel’s Share and Harvest of Secrets but the pacing of this series entry was a bit slow for me and my attention waned. I suppose in the end, part of my enthusiasm this time was the Jackie thread. Not a lot of elements of a cozy, listed as a traditional detective mystery—but didn’t feel that vibe either. Still, these can all be considered standalone and I’ll be looking forward to the next one.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars
Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
- ASIN : B08QNF14TD
Print Length: 243 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 6, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries, two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina and MOSCOW NIGHTS, a standalone. THE FRENCH PARADOX, the 11th book in the wine country series will be out 1/29/21 in the UK, 4/6/21 in the US and 3/1/21 as an ebook. Before writing fiction, Crosby–who has lived in England, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the former Soviet Union–worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her (very) occasionally on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, sometimes on Twitter at @ellencrosby–but mostly on Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor. She also writes an erratic (but interesting) newsletter.