Deadly Tasting (Winemaker Detective book 4)
by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen. Translated by Sally Pane
Series: Winemaker Detective (Book 4)
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Le French Book (October 17, 2014)
Website | Goodreads
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?
He was about to climb the large staircase to his office when a digital toccata rang out from the cell phone deep inside the pocket of his Loden. He dug the device out, pressed the answer button,and Inspector Barbaroux’s gravelly voice assaulted his eardrum. Getting straight to the point without so much as a greeting, the police inspector asked Benjamin to come immediately to 8B Rue Maucoudinat. The detective had a clipped, authoritative tone, perhaps to give away as little information as possible. Irritated, Benjamin made a quick about-face and headed for the Saint Pierre neighborhood.
He was not in the habit of complying so swiftly, and he was almost angry with himself for doing what the captain wanted without getting any explanation.Arriving at the Place Camille Jullian, Benjamin spotted two police cars blocking the narrow street, their doors wide open and lights flashing. An ambulance was parked nearby. The street had also been cordoned off. A uniformed officer recognized Benjamin from afar and unhooked the crime-scene tape to let him pass. He explained that the captain was waiting for him on the third floor of the small building at the corner of the Rue des Trois Chandeliers. Other police officers were holding back a crowd of onlookers, many of whom were standing on their toes to catch a glimpse of whatever was happening behind the flowerpots on the balcony.
Benjamin rushed up the two flights of wooden stairs without so much as holding onto the railing and made his way down the hall where two plainclothes detectives were talking with a woman in a white coat. They all turned and looked him up and down without a word.“Hello,” Benjamin panted. “I believe the inspector is expecting me.” “I don’t know if he can be disturbed,” said one of the men. “Access to the area is prohibited.” “This way, Mr. Cooker,” Barbaroux bellowed from inside the apartment. In the hallway, an empty gurney sat next to an umbrella stand, which was also empty. The wallpaper, with tedious rows of droopy floral bouquets, oozed a musty odor. Faded prints of religious scenes, shepherds on the heath, and dove hunters added little charm to the stuffy dark tunnel that opened onto a cramped living room furnished in birch veneer. “Sorry to trouble you, but I needed to see you right away,” the inspector said, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his trousers. “Thanks for coming so quickly.” “What happened?” Benjamin asked, overlooking the fact that Barbaroux hadn’t bothered to shake his hand. “It must be serious if you’ve blocked the road off.”
“Everyone says you’re the most brilliant wine expert of your generation,” Barbaroux said. “Some even claim that you’re one of the best in the world. Is that true?” “You didn’t bring me here to shower me with compliments, I hope.” “Don’t think I’m being sarcastic, Mr. Cooker. That’s not my style. But it happens that I need your expertise right now.” The woman in the white coat came into the room. Her hand was raised, and she appeared to be asking permission to cut the conversation short. Two morgue attendants wearing serious expressions were standing behind her. “My team has finished, Chief. Can we remove the body now?” “You haven’t forgotten anything?” Barbaroux growled. “Everything’s ready to go. We have what we need.”
“In that case, get him out of here!” The men pushed a gurney through a door that Benjamin had not noticed before, leaving it open as they attempted to lift the half-naked and bloody body. It took several tries, and at one point they almost dropped the corpse. The wine
expert averted his eyes and made a sign of the cross.
“Jules-Ernest Grémillon, ninety-three years old,” said Barbaroux. “Not a bad age to die.” “Are you going to tell me what happened in this apartment or not?” “Do you really want to know?” he asked, looking Cooker in the eye. “Well then, follow me.”
This was a quick read, and has a very interesting storyline. There’s a serial murderer and he places 12 wine glasses at the murder scenes, filling the glasses according to the number of murders. I loved that!! Another aspect I loved was that the Benjamin Cooker was not only a very good detective, he was also a wine expert.
All of the characters were unique and that made following the story very fun and easy. There was a bit of unnecessary language, but other than that the book was a great mystery.
I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. It was completely different than how I though it would end, so I’m still thinking on it.
When I started reading the book, I didn’t realize it was the fourth book in a twenty book (so far) series. Still, I didn’t feel like I was missing any information, so it’s good as a stand alone.
If you like books about France, wine, mysteries etc. give this book a try. I really liked it, so I may read more in the series.