A serial killer is on the loose in Bordeaux. A local chief detective calls wine expert Benjamin Cooker to the crime scene of a brutal murder. The killer has left a strange calling card: twelve wine glasses lined up in a semi-circle with the first one filled with wine. Cooker is charged with the task of identifying the fabulous grand cru and is astonished by what he learns. A second victim is found, with two glasses filled. Is the killer intentionally leaving clues about his victims and his motives? Memories are jogged about the complicated history of Bordeaux during Nazi occupation. It was a dark time: weinfuhrers ruled the wine trade, while collaborationists and paramilitary organizations spread terror throughout the region. In present-day wine country, time is running out. Will Cooker and his young assistant Virgile solve the mystery before all twelve glasses are full?
#4 in the series, received in ebook format from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Benjamin is not happy – he’s been put on a diet by his wife – and it’s the Cabbage Soup diet no less! (though the way it was described how Elizabeth cooked it – I was *so* prepared to at least try it once!). As usual there are few physical descriptions of the characters – I believe there is a TV tie in though I dont know which came first – apart from that Benjamin is in his 50s and overweight. He is under pressure at wok, with the amount of testing and tasting he and his company have to do – no mean feat when he’s on a diet and not allowed to drink (much)!
This is a fast paced book, where several murders are being discovered every day, and before anyone knows it, 6 people are dead or have had their graves desecrated. Benjamin is pulled in because with each death 12 glasses are laid out at the scene with increasing amounts of wine poured out. Benjamin is asked to identify the wine in the hope that it can help lead to the killer. It’s a 1942 vintage, which leads to talking about a very difficult time in French history. Virgile is coming into his own, as it is one of his contacts that puts them on the right track regarding the local factions and splinter groups during the war.
As usual with murder mysteries, the prime suspect is found almost by accident, and it’s only through digging further into the background, trying to find connections, that a discovery of betrayal, murder and the vagaries of war are found.
Have read several other books in this series and havent tired of it yet!