Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Seven Deadly Zins (A Wine Country Mystery #2)

Author:  Nancy J. Parra
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781683318712
Crooked Lane Books
288 Pages
$25.80; $12.99 Amazon
January 8, 2019

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Taylor O'Brian, founder of "Off the Beaten Path", takes small groups on wine country tours of romantic Sonoma County.  Friends are everything in the tour business, so Taylor is happy to guide investors to the winery owned by her friend Tim Slade.  But vintage turns to vinegar when an FDA inspector is found floating face down in one of Tim's vats of squished grapes.

Tim is arrested on suspicion of murder, and Taylor and her friends rally to prove his innocence.  But it's not an easy task, especially since the winery proprietor's acidic sense of humor tends to reap a harvest of sour grapes.  Taylor's investigation is withering on the vine until she discovers that Tim's girlfriend, Mandy, is having an affair with a self-help guru.  But before she has a chance to confront Mandy, Taylor finds Tim standing over the body of the dead guru.

This tart turn of events sends a bottle shock through Sonoma.  Might Taylor's friend really be a Zin-ful killer?  If so, could Taylor be the next victim?  The tour guide and her friends come to realize that the true murderer's scent is obscured by an unsavory bouquet of red herrings.

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Taylor O'Brian owns "Off the Beaten Path" wine country tours.  When she's taking her group on a tour of a winery she's just added, the owner Tim Slade is showing them certain aspects of how wine is made, but unfortunately, he also discovers a body in the vat.  When the police arrive it takes a while to identify the bloated (and discolored from wine) man, but it becomes known that it's Jeffery Hoag, a realtor that Tim's girlfriend Mandy worked for.

But no one seems to know how he got in the vat - Tim claims he wasn't there when he went out the evening before; still, the police insist they have DNA that proves Tim committed the murder and arrest him.  While Taylor knows he's innocent, the police believe they have their man.  Taylor, on the other hand, sets out to find the real killer.

But she has problems of her own.  First she discovers that there's a new tour operator in town who seems to not only take people on wine country tours, but has state-of-the-art buses and manages to get them into wineries Taylor as yet hasn't been able to breach.

Then there's Dr. Brinkman, who seems to be taking the area by storm with people swarming to get into his motivational speech talks, and she is given tickets for herself and her friend Holly.  When she also invites reporter Chelsea to the speech, they are given tea that neither Taylor nor Chelsea will touch, but Holly drinks it and shortly thereafter thinks Brinkman is the best thing ever and is ready to turn everything she owns over to him.  It doesn't help that Tim's girlfriend Mandy is also enamored by Brinkman and is trying to get Taylor enamored as well.

But after Tim is released on bail, it is only a short time later that Taylor agrees to meet with Brinkman and she and Mandy see Tim leave his dressing room covered in blood.  When the doctor is found dead, Tim is arrested for murder this time as well, without bail.  But when she and Chelsea probe deeper to find the truth, it is something that cuts Taylor to the bone in a time-crunching scare that finally ferrets out everything she wants to know...

This is the second book in the series and I have to say that I liked it much better than the first.  However, there were still a couple of things that bothered me, and one of them is how Taylor treats men.  She states how she likes Sheriff Ron Hennessy (she waffles between calling him Ron sometimes and then Sheriff others), and mentions how he was going to ask her out for coffee but never did.  When he finally does mention it, she tells him that they'd better wait until the case is settled before doing so.  Say what?  She laments he never asked her out, he mentions that he'd like to, and she puts him off?  So what does she do?  The attorney, Patrick, asks her out and she thinks that her "crush" on the sheriff will probably come to nothing so she might as well date Patrick.  Huh?  She'll settle for someone she's not interested in as much because the sheriff didn't drag her off that minute for coffee?  And she's the one who put Ron off.  To tell the truth, I don't like the way this is going - that of the Love Triangle.  It's never interesting, and you have to realize that if this were a man who was treating two women this way, you'd not be happy with it.

I also didn't care for the way the police seemed to be less intelligent than Taylor.  No matter what she was told, she was always right and they were always the ones who pretty much didn't have a clue, just wanted to nail someone for the murder.  If these things were different, this could have been an excellent book.  Below is a spoiler that asks a few questions but also gives away a bit of the plot, so please do not view if you have not read the book.  Thank you.



While I felt the story started slow, and I wasn't really interested in the seancé episodes, I did like the way it picked up toward the end; I did like the resolution of the murders and how they were eventually handled.  It was an easy cozy to get through and I will read the next in the series.

https://smile.amazon.com/Seven-Deadly-Zins-Country-Mystery/dp/1683318714/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2543253909

More on Nancy J. Parra's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/p/nancy-j-parra/

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