I enjoy mysteries set in California wine country, so I was excited to see this new series. There are a few others, but not many. So there is room for another with this theme. Check out Cypress Cove California.
Copyright: May 2015 (Berkley) 295 pgs
Series: 1st in Cypress Cove Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy
Main Characters: Penny Lively, former photojournalist newly inherited Joyeux Vineyard
Setting: Modern day, Cypress Cove - California wine country
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Penny Lively lost her job as a photojournalist but is taking up the reins ofJoyeux Winery that her aunt left her. By her side are her niece Hayley asAssistant Manager and Connor as winery manager. But the owner of theneighboring winery, and a distant relative, Antonia Martinelli, asks for help with apparent sabotage of her wines. Her winery is large and influential, but somebody is out to ruin her. Penny agrees to help, but she didn't realize what was involved when she finds the Martinelli Tasting Room Manager, Todd Ryan, in the grape crusher. Penny feels protective since Hayley was the last person with Todd, and thus is a prime suspect.
Penny is in her mid thirties, a head strong person used to being on her own. She is a likeable character. Haley complements Penny well and grounds her. Connor, the Winery manager is the potential romantic interest who harps about Penny's safety. Antonia is the iron-fisted matriarch of a dysfunctional family that includes daughters Francesca and Chantal, plus Stephen the heir and his wife Veronica. Chief Lucas works the case without being antagonist with Penny. This cozy has solid characters and less of the eccentric or comic elements, but not as gritty as an amateur sleuth or PI novel.
A good portion of the story takes place during the Autumn Festival, a two-days of wine, food, and judging local vineyards wine entries. I particularly enjoyed the luscious descriptions of wine country during harvest and decorated in autumn colors.
The plot had several elements in play, so there is no simple solution which made this solid mystery. The pacing was steady throughout, resulting in what felt like a "fast" read. The mystery resolution and killer confrontation was exciting with some good nail-biting suspense. The wrap-up tied up the remaining issues.
This is a solid debut with a strong likeable main character, fantastic setting, and multifaceted mystery. If you enjoy the Wine Lover's Mystery series, check this new series out.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.