Sunday, June 15, 2014

Treachery and Mystery in French Wine Country

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen
Le French Book
February 2012

Treachery in Bordeaux is the first of a 20 book series featuring renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker. A very popular French TV series is also based on the series. Cooker is an expert vintner and wine critic, much sought after by the industry and well-known by the public at large.When a vintage from the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion is tampered with in the barrel, the owner calls Cooker in to investigate whether it was sabotage. Benjamin, along with his new assistant, Virgile Lanssien, turns amateur detective in order to discover the culprit as well as the reason. 

What I don't know about wine production is a vast territory, so I found much of the book very interesting. There are wonderful descriptions of the Bordeaux region, almost cinematic in nature. However, Cooker comes across as too gimmicky a character; always perfectly turned out with the perfect wardrobe, the perfect car, and a whopping ego to match. In contrast, both Virgile and Cooker's wife, Elisabeth, are cardboard. Elisabeth seems to exist solely to keep a perfect home and turn out exquisite meals on demand. The book is also very short; a little longer than novella length. The mystery is tied up in just a few pages with characters that came into the story just to supply a solution. One has the feeling that the book came into existence after the TV script was written. I came to the last page and said, "Wait, What? Is that it"?

I did find the information on the wine industry of interest, keeping me reading, and am willing to read more of the series, in the hope that there is more character development. All in all it was a pleasant and undemanding read so I will give it 3 stars.

Thanks to Le French Book and for an advance digital copy.

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