A business magnate calls on wine expert Benjamin Cooker to kickstart his new wine business in Beaujolais, sparking bitter rivalries. Can the Winemaker Detective and his assistant keep calculating real estate agents, taciturn winegrowers, dubious wine merchants and suspicious deaths from delaying delivery of the world-famous Beaujolais Nouveau?
Another short investigation by Benjamin and Virgile, and a slight change in the format of the books just to keep things interesting – the story starts with a dead body, the goes back several months to introduce the back history, before announcing the killer.
Benjamin and Virgile have been commissioned by Guillaume Périthiard (a self made millionaire with a thing for watches) to help restore a wine estate in Beaujolais. Mr. Périthiard wants to return to the region where he grew up and become a major force in the wine making industry. However, not everyone is happy about his plans, in no small part because Périthiard is an ambitious man, and believes nothing cant be fixed without spending money.
Things take a turn for the worse when one of his new employees – poached from a competitor – dies while out hunting. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Périthiard’s wife is threatening divorce, and Périthiard’s interest is being piqued by the wife of the local estate agent (who has managed to persuade Périthiard into investing in some restaurants as a side line).
While overseeing the restoration of the vines and wine making equipment it is up to Benjamin and Virgile to find out who is behind the murderous attempts to sabotage Mr. Périthiard’s business interests.
As usual there is some history and discussion of the Beaujolais wines, where we get to learn about the different types and the impact of the Nouveau run (as much of a marketing event in the 1990s as anything to do with wine) as well as some wonderful sounding meals. We also get to find that some of Cooker’s friends (a married couple of a successful writer and an artist) aren’t good cooks!
The murderer is identified as much by instinct and guess work as anything else, so it can seem to come rather suddenly, which can come as a surprise!