Book Review: Nightmare in Burgundy by Jean-Pierre Alaux

nightmareThe Winemaker Detective leaves his native Bordeaux to go to Burgundy for a dream wine tasting trip to France’s other key wine-making region. Between Beaune, Dijon and Nuits-Saint-Georges, it urns into a troubling nightmare when he stumbles upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era. What do they mean? What dark secrets from the deep past are haunting the Clos de Vougeot? Does blood need to be shed to sharpen people’s memory?

Received from Netgalley in exchange for a review. Translated from the French, it is the third in the Winemaker Detective series, following on from Grand Cru Heist.

Benjamin Cooker, half French, half English, finds himself in Burgundy where he is to receive the honour of  being named Chevalier du Tastevin by the Knights of the order (slogan ‘Never whine, always wine!’). He takes the opportunity to spend a few days in area, staying in the small town of Vougeot, in order to do some tastings of the local producers in order to prepare notes for his new book.

However, the trip is spoilt when two young men are shot dead in the process of spraying some graffiti on a wall – there has been a spate of slogans written in Latin on walls around the town. Benjamin cant resist trying to work out what these couplets mean and why they have been daubed on the walls.  He invites Virgile, his young and attractive assistant, to the town to lends a hand with the investigations, whilst allowing the younger man to continue his foray into wine tasting.

This is a shortish book, and not the first of the series. There is not much in terms of description of Cooker, which may have been done in a previous book (or perhaps because this is related to a TV series I’ve never heard of, it allows for anyone to be cast in the role).  Virgile isnt described much either, apart from being a terrible flirt and a hit with the women.

There are some great descriptions of the food eaten and the wine drunk (they seemed to be a little more detailed in the previous book), as well as some of the local traditions and fokelore. The denouement comes a little quick and the clues are a little tenuous to get to that point, but that is only a small point in an otherwise enjoyable and short book.

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