In The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby, Lucie Montgomery has lived in France on her family’s vineyard for the previous two years. She has needed recuperate from a serious car accident that put her in a wheelchair for a long time before physical therapy gave her the ability to walk, but with a limp. Then one evening Lucie gets a phone call from her brother, Eli, with whom she hasn’t had contact in months. Their father, Leland, has suddenly died in a shooting accident, and Lucie must drop everything immediately to catch the first plane in order for Lucie to get to the funeral in time.
When Lucie arrives, Eli meets her at the airport and takes her to the vineyard in Virginia on land that their family was awarded for their participation in the American Revolution. Their late mother set up the vineyard from valuable French vines, and it is finally ready to produce its finest quality wine. In the car, Eli lets Lucie know that Fitz, Lucie’s godfather, has been claiming that Leland was murdered and wants her to stop Fitz’s talk.
But what Lucie finally discovers is that Eli’s true purpose in talking to her is that he intends to sell the vineyard, not seeing any value in the land that their family has owned over 200 years. But then at the viewing, Fitz encourages Lucie to find the murderer of her father and also fight to prevent her brother and sister from selling the vineyard. When Eli, in anger over Fitz’s communications, chases off Fitz, no one sees Lucie’s godfather again. Instead, the next day a winery worker finds him in a ? filled with 100% carbon dioxide, which would have asphyxiated Fitz immediately. This leads to a search for the killer, all while Lucie is dealing with her family’s pressure to sell off the vineyard that has been in her family for generations.
I really enjoyed listening to The Merlot Murders. The characters seemed very realistic, with their own personal strengths and weaknesses. They made me relate to them and connect to the story. The plot was intriguing and kept my interest throughout the course of the entire book.
P.J. Davis-Oran performs the audio edition of this book. She plays the part of Lucie effectively, giving good expression to her narration. As she performs the other characters, she uses good voices for each one, especially doing a strong job with the French characters and their accents. One problem I did have with the audiobook, however, is that the volume is irregular, louder at times and then softer.
The Merlot Murders was a well-written book, with plenty of fascinating information about the wine industry in Virginia and about Thomas Jefferson as well. I appreciated the book and look forward to listening to the next book in the series. I give the book five stars.
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