😀 😀 😀 😀
When winemaker and critic Benjamin Cooker is brutally attacked and car-jacked one night in Paris, he feels he needs to take some time out of work to recover, so he heads for the Loire Valley where he can do a bit of wine-tasting while otherwise taking it easy. That’s the plan anyway, until one of the other guests at the hotel is murdered and the waiter disappears. Meantime one of Cooker’s friends in the wine business is being targeted with a series of anonymous letters from someone who appears to be stealing cases of his wine from different places. Suddenly Cooker and his assistant Virgile seem to be involved in two investigations…
This delightfully short book falls firmly into the category of ‘cosy’. There is a plot and an investigation, and there are a few darker moments around Cooker’s feelings of vulnerability after being attacked and the illness of Virgile’s sister. But these are all tucked comfortably into the spaces between the long leisurely meals, discussions of fine wine, post-prandial cigars and drooling over vintage cars with which Cooker fills his day.
This is the second in a series, though the first I’ve read, and both Cooker and Virgile are well-developed and likeable characters with whom it is a pleasure to spend some time. Cooker is middle-aged and happily married, with a temper but loyal to his friends, and with a zest for life that covers both his work and leisure time. Virgile is his young assistant, attractive and unattached, who is learning about the business and occasionally about life from the older man. The rest of the characters aren’t quite so well-developed, perhaps unsurprisingly in a book that comes in at around 150 pages; and the murder element of the plot is fairly easy to work out, though the other strand about the wine-thefts and letters is less straightforward. The quality of the writing is good as is the translation by Anne Trager.
I’m not going to pretend that this book counts as great literature – it’s not trying to be. But it’s a light, pleasurable read that works beautifully to cleanse the palate between heavier books. I’ve already downloaded one of the others in the series to have in reserve for the next time I need a quick pick-me-up. Recommended.
Thanks to Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist for recommending this one – here’s her review.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Le French Book.