Merrimon Book Reviews

Official White House portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Porrait of
George Washington
by James Peale

Bottles of Margaux Wine

Exterior of the Bordeaux wine estate Chateau Margaux
From Merrimon Book Reviews

The Bordeaux Betrayal
A Wine Country Mystery
The Bordeaux Betrayal by Ellen Crosby
by Ellen Crosby
Intriguing look into world of wine but narrative a bit rushed

Publisher: Scribner  (August 2008)
While attending a lecture on George Washington's collection of wines, Valerie Beauvais approaches Lucie Montgomery about a bottle of Bordeaux to be auctioned at Lucie's charity fund raiser. Valerie hints that she knows something about about the provenance of the wines in the auction. When Lucie finds Valerie's body the next morning, she thinks that the murder is somehow connected to the 1790 Margaux that Thomas Jefferson procured from France for George Washington, a bottle donated to her auction. After all, Lucie's Virginia winery is receiving frequent inquiries from all over about the auction and at least one auction agent plans to procure the bottle for her client at all costs. Lucie researches the history of the wine and Jefferson's travels in France in an effort to remove suspicion from herself and her friends. As she investigates, several complications muddy the waters from case of plagiarism, the victim's reputation, early American history and later European WWII history, and an anti-fox hunting movement. When a surprising clue surfaces and the body count increases, Lucie herself finds herself in danger as her investigation narrows.

Third in her cozy Wine Country Mystery series, Ellen Crosby's THE BORDEAUX BETRAYAL provides an intriguing entry into the world of wines for wine lovers and neophytes alike from history, to such elements as terroir and recorking, to collecting verticals, to the business of wine futures as well as an informative look into the the differences between Virginian and Californian viticulture. Ellen Crosby is at her best in integrating such terms into the storyline smoothly for multiple levels of wine enthusiasts. A look into fox hunting adds to the general ambiance of her Virginia setting. As the story progresses however, the multiple threads lack continuity and the isolated red herrings detract from a smooth flow of the plot. Once introduced, certain scenarios disappear when their logical follow-through would give more flow to the narrative and a feeling for both the characters and the scene. For example, the reader discovers the local antagonism to fox hunting and an attempt to sabotage the hunt, but the fox hunt itself is never portrayed. As this series continues, this reader hopes to revisit some of the characters portrayed here as well as some of the interrelationships between them. Although this book works as a stand alone, more character development in each book would benefit both this book and the series as a whole. Although the prose in and of itself is pleasant to read, THE BORDEAUX BETRAYAL would be a great read with more interconnection between various scenes and characters. Quite simply, this book feels rushed and would benefit from more fleshing out. While fast-paced and exciting in the quick pursuit of clues, this book would have been better if the author had slowed the pace a little to add the descriptive detail and interconnections so that the reader becomes more thoroughly immersed in the characters and scenes. The mystery itself unwinds into an intriguing ending as past and present merge and motivations become unveiled.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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