Title: Grapes of Death
Author: Joni Folger
Blurb: Elise Beckett has a wonderful family, a good job on the family-owned River Bend vineyard, and a smart, stable boyfriend—even if he does live five hours away. But when her long-distance beau offers her a dream job, she’s torn between her family responsibility and exciting new horticulture research. Before Elise has time to think about her decision, Uncle Edmond, the family’s money-loving and temper-toting black sheep—shows up to bully her mother into giving him ownership of the vineyard, which he claims is his inheritance. After she refuses, Edmond storms away, only to be later found dead by the river. What seems to be an accidental drowning turns out to be murder. Now Elise must help Sheriff’s Deputy Jackson Landry solve the mystery before the killer strikes again.
A cosy mystery set in a vineyard – what a dream book for this little wannabe oenophile. The story opens with Elise driving home to consider a job opportunity her boyfriend has offered her – only it will involve leaving her home. She has asked him for time so she can discuss it with her family. The discussion goes out of the window when a huge row occurs between her mother and uncle and he storms off only to be found murdered the next day. All the family are now suspects; and it doesn’t help when a second victim is found on the property not long after. The local deputy Jackson is handsome, annoying and her brother’s best friend; but he is also making Elise’s heart pound whenever he is around. Elise is the horticulturist for the winery and trying to develop drought resistant grapes that could prove a godsend for the winery so it will be tough on her family if she leaves to peruse a different destiny. But Elise is not going anywhere right now, as she can’t believe that anyone in her family is capable of murder and she thinks that Jackson is not looking outside the family; she decides to do her own sleuthing and find the murderer herself. Trouble is that when she finds the guilty person she may not live to tell the tale! Jackson is doing everything he can to keep Elise out of danger and actually do some proper investigation of his own but Elise doesn’t make it easy for him. GRAPES OF DEATH is a page turner with an interesting plot and twists and turns galore. There are quite a few supporting characters who are all very real to life and are used very effectively to lead the story line off in several different directions at once in order to keep this reader in suspense as to who dunnit until basically the same time as Elise found out. GRAPES OF DEATH is a great debut mystery and I’ll definitely read more books in this series.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
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With thanks to Midnight ink Publishers and the author via Netgalley.