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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review - Decanting a Murder

I was intrigued with this mystery book featuring a Sommelier as the main character, so I had to read this debut book in a new series.  See if it sparks your interest.

Author: Nadine Nettmann

Copyright: May 2016 (Midnight Ink) 264 pgs

Series: 1st in Sommelier Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Katie Stillwell

Setting: Modern day, California Wine Country

Obtained Through: Publisher/NetGalley for honest review

"Katie Stillwell focuses on two things in her life: work and practicing for Sommelier Certification with her blind tasting group. The exam was supposed to be the hardest part of her week, but that was before a body was found at an exclusive Napa Valley winery party.

When all the evidence points to Katie's best friend, the outspoken and independent Tessa, Katie drops everything to clear Tessa's name. Using her deductive wine skills, she tries to track down the real killer. But when repeated attempts are made on her life, Katie discovers that everyone's secrets must be uncovered―including her own."

Katie Stillwell is challenged in many ways in this book, the least of which is the Sommelier certification exam.  She is a steadfast friend who is doing everything in her power to help her friend Tessa.  She has some baggage to deal with along the way.  Tessa is a bit of a party girl with a bad reputation, dysfunctional and exhibits poor judgement sometimes, but she is devoted to Katie.  Dean is the investigating detective that somewhat likes Katie but keeps his distance throughout.  
Wine country is the backdrop and the many details of vineyard work.  This is well presented and gives a melancholy aspect I thought.  One setting of the wine barrel storage that is dark, isolated, and cut into a hillside was really used effectively.  The plot is straight forward, but the complicated characters and relationship between Katie and Tessa stand out.  The pacing gets going once we reach the murder and the subplot of how Tessa is involved.   Then Katie is setup and it gets interesting.

The killer reveal has some good tense moments, and a pretty tense scene three/fourths the way in which gave me some chills.  The wrap up was the one part that I would have liked to see different. I believe this is meant to be a series, but the ending didn't setup anticipation for the next book.  

Overall I liked the story, loved the Sommelier angle and hope that is maintained as the series continues.  Although this classifies as a cozy with no real violence, mild or no swearing, no intimate scenes etc. I was left with a feeling of Amateur sleuth because of the more serious tone and Tessa's character.  

Rating:  Good - A fun read with good qualities.

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