Late Harvest Havoc
By Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen
Winemaker Detective Series, Book 10
Publisher: LeFrench Book
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Length: 157 Pages
Translated by: Sally Pane
About the book:
Winter is in the air in Alsace and local customs are sowing trouble, piquing the curiosity of the famous winemaker from Bordeaux, Benjamin Cooker. While the wine expert and his assistant Virgile settle into their hotel in the old city of Colmar, distinguished vineyards are attacked. Is it revenge?
The plot thickens when estates with no apparent connection to one another suffer the same sabotage just days prior to the late harvest. All of Alsace is in turmoil, plunged in the grip of suspicion that traces its roots back to the darkest hours of the German occupation.
As he crosses back and forth into Germany from the Alsace he thought he knew so well, Cooker discovers a land of superstition, rivalry, and jealousy. Between tastings of the celebrated wines, he is drawn into the lives and intrigues of the inhabitants.
A lover of good food and sweet wine, I was more than happy to get a chance to read and review Late Harvest Havoc, the tenth (10th) book in The Winemaker Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen. Set in Alsace, the northeastern French region of the Rhine River, wine experts and amateur detectives Benjamin Cooker and his assistant Virgile find themselves embroiled in solving another murder and dealing with suspicious wine growers all while traveling back and forth between Germany and France. Filled with the history of the region, colorful descriptions of the region’s food and local people, Late Harvest Havoc is a fine addition to an already established series.Deciding to introduce his assistant/apprentice to the Northeast countryside of France and its regional wines, Benjamin Cooker and Virgile Lanssien head to the Alsace region in Benjamin’s vintage Mercedes with plans to eat, drink and conduct more research for the “Cooker” guidebook. They didn’t plan one of the local guides dropping dead during a historical chapel tour or on becoming suspects in a local police investigation of “vine vandalism”. A suspicion Benjamin doesn’t take well, especially since his beloved car is also vandalized.Already a fan of this series, I could not wait to see what Mr. Alaux and Mr. Balen had in store for Benjamin and Virgile in this installment and I was not disappointed. As this series continues to progress, Benjamin and Virgile become more like a father and son; they understand each other’s mood swings and truly care for one another. Their dialogue is witty, occasionally sarcastic and they have a lot of fun traveling the countryside tasting wine. Especially since it is often accompanied by great food. While they can’t seem to help getting involved in solving murders, murder literally seems to follow them around, they enjoy the challenge solving a crime gives them and Benjamin is becoming quite proud of how much better they are at it than some of the local police.The authors do a wonderful job educating the reader about the Alsace region while solving a mystery. A region steeped in both French and German history, Alsace is clearly filled with natural beauty, great wines and good food. I personally have always wanted to visit this region of France because of how it has gone back and forth between France and Germany since the end of the Roman Empire. The two mysteries (the murder and the vandalism) are well written and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader entertained and guessing. I especially enjoyed reading the back and forth between Benjamin and Virgile when they were both tired and a little stressed out.Will Benjamin and Virgile discover who is behind the “vine vandalism” in the region? Will Benjamin’s beloved car suffer as a result of Benjamin’s investigation? And will they discover who killed the chapel tour guide and why she had to die? You’ll have to read Late Harvest Havoc to find out. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more books in this series.My Rating: 4 out of 5 Crowns
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher via NetGalley as a part of a book tour for a fair and honest review.