Monday, September 10, 2018

Chardonnayed to Rest (The Wine Trail Mysteries #2)

Author:  J.C. Eaton
Genre: Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781516108022
Lyrical Underground 
220 Pages
$15.00; $4.99 Amazon
September 25, 2018


In Seneca Lake, New York, Norrie Ellington's Two Witches Winery has been selected by the local vintner community to host the annual Federweisser, a celebration of the season's first fermentation of white Chardonnay grapes.  But the festivities are spoiled when Norrie learns that landowner Roy Wilkes has raised her neighbor Rosealee Marbleton's rent so high, she may have to close her vineyard.

Before the rent hike could go into effect, Wilkes is found dead on Rosalee's property - stabbed by a flowerpot stake - and she becomes the police's number one suspect.  To clear her friend's name, Norrie conducts her own investigation.  But as she gathers clues, Norrie finds herself targeted by a killer, and if she's not careful, her desire to see justice done may die on the vine...


Norrie Ellington is managing the family winery while her sister Francine and her husband Jason spend a year in Costa Rica searching for a rare bug.  Norrie is a screenwriter who has her own deadline to make, so she's needing all the free time she can get to finish it.

Unfortunately, it won't be this week, and possibly not the next, either.  Her friend and a fellow winery owner, Rosalee Marbleton tells Norrie that a newcomer to Penn Yan has bought land nearby that she has a pipeline for water running though, and he's raised the rent so high she may have to close her winery.  But when Roy Wilkes's body is found by Rosalee she calls Norrie in a panic.  Along with another winery owner, Theo, they investigate and sure enough, Roy is dead.

But when Rosalee's handyman Kelsey is arrested for the crime and it's implied that Rosalee may have put him up to it. she begs Norrie to find out the truth.  Against her better judgment, Norrie agrees.  But will digging into another murder find a killer or will it put her next on the list to die?

This is the second book in the series and I have to say that I liked it better than the first.  The characters are starting to develop personalities and come into their own and I felt that this was lacking in the debut book, and Norrie is becoming more comfortable with the employees at the winery, even though she's not as fond of the place as is her sister.

There were, however, a couple of things that rankled me a bit: in the first book she met a couple of developers that were so "hot" she couldn't think straight; and in this book she meets an attorney and mentions that she's never met anyone so attractive.  How hot is this guy?  Does Norrie find one to surpass another around every corner?  Then I get the feeling that a love triangle might be in the offering.  Please, please no.  Love triangles are never fun to read about at all, and take away pleasure in the book.

The other thing that bothered me is the fact that Norrie doesn't realize just how much like Deputy Gary she is.  She decides one person is guilty and refuses to even consider anyone else might be the culprit.  She just goes around trying to prove she's right.  I get that she's a screenwriter and has a vivid imagination, but she should also think logically and look for clues, sifting through them to find the truth.  Instead, she comes up with hair-brained schemes she decides will bring the killer to justice.  While we, the readers, had a pretty good clue as to who the killer was because of a single act, Norrie was oblivious to that fact.  Also, and I can't help but wonder about this, who is the sheriff in this town, and shouldn't a homicide detective be investigating murders, not a town deputy?  Just curious.

Aside from these things, I found that the story was written well and put together nicely.  The reason for the murder was believable, and even the final confrontation - given the personalities involved - was believable as well.

I thought the bowlers and quilters were probably the funniest part of the story and even made me laugh out loud at one point, and I do love Norrie's "thoughts in her head."  She's pretty sarcastic to herself, and it gives a bit of lightness to the story that keeps it moving along at a good pace.  In the end, I thought this was a pretty decent book and a fairly quick read.  The murder was tied up creditably, and I would like to see what the next in the series brings.  Recommended.


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