Tag Archives: wine

Book Review: Interesting Whodunit

Surreal Absurdity

By Jim Lively

Jamie Simon attempted to kill Charles Pierce with an overdose of stolen ketamine. The whole affair disconcerted Pierce, but he wanted to put it behind him, so he never reported her to the police. Unfortunately, Ms. Simon decided to confess to police. Thus, the investigation and trial began, pulling Pierce into court and into the news. Unfortunately, this ultimately changed his life – and not in a good way.

Having retired from practicing law, Charles now spent his days painting. He was surprisingly good, so when he rented a space to paint from an art gallery, he quickly became a part of the art scene. Again, bad luck follows him. Random attacks on the gallery seem to be targeting him and as if that isn’t bad enough, he is implicated in a murder.

He quickly realizes he is in grave danger, and so begins his quest to find out just who is behind the attacks. But the police don’t believe him, in fact, they suspect he is the one who is on a murderous spree. Hopefully he can convince them otherwise and they will apprehend the real killer before it is too late.

For me there was too much dialog, not enough descriptions in this book. At times there were pages of dialog, just back and forth without setting information to give me a full picture of who, what, where and when. I am not saying the dialog was bad. For me, I needed something to see, hear or smell along the conversation. I enjoyed the information imparted regarding the wine tastings, the art and the gallery, I just needed more to get deeper into this novel. On the plus side, it is a super-fast read because of the pages of dialog.

This fast-paced mystery was interesting. The clues were all there and yet I didn’t realize who the killer was until the last pages. I liked this book but did not love it. The end especially disappointed me. It seemed as though there was more information readers needed to know. It ended abruptly, seemingly the end of a chapter, not a book. Perhaps there will be another novel in this series of two, but it leaves the readers hanging in the meantime.

This is the first book I have read by this author. Like his main character, Mr. Lively was a lawyer and is now a contemporary visual artist as well as a filmmaker. His second novel won the 2016 Merrimack Media Outstanding Writer Award. Surreal Absurdity is a sequel to Aberrant Behavior, which I have not read.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: My Fair Latte – Fabulous First in a New Cozy Series

My Fair Latte (The Café Cinema Mystery Series #1)

By Vickie Fee

Halley Greer’s Great-Uncle Leon bequeathed the Star Movie Palace to her. Far past it’s prime, the theater is a faded princess that time has not been kind to. But there is something about the small town of Utopia Springs and the hopes of reviving the theater that makes Halley want to stay. She has dreams of playing old classic movies and serving wine and coffees in the lobby. She is a great barista and wants to use her talents to support herself doing something she loves.

After a rocky start, she begins making friends and connections in the tourist laden town. When someone vandalizes her newly renovated theater, she begins to wonder if her dreams will be dashed, but she perseveres.  Having high hopes for opening night, Halley was elated when locals and tourists filled the theater. Unfortunately, during the intermission, one of the patrons was found dead in his seat.

When the police department focuses on her as their main suspect, Halley and her new friends begin a bit of sleuthing. Will she become the next victim by getting too close to the truth?

Ms. Fee drew me into the story immediately. The characters are quirky, funny and realistic. I was amused by the hotel owner who pretends to be British. And who doesn’t like a cat with the name Eartha Kitty? Like all cozies, there is a bit of romance flirting at the edge of the mystery. There is also a great historical twist featuring the infamous outlaw Jesse James that is totally plausible.

The small-town setting is perfect for a new cozy series. It is vintage but not old fashioned. There is entertainment for tourists and locals alike as well as eateries and shops. The nostalgic nod to the past with classic movies is interesting and fun. It reminded me of more than one classic film I would love to see again on the big screen.

Vicki Fee is the author of the A Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery Series. My Fair Latte is the first book in the Café Cinema Mystery Series and the first one I have read from this author. Her sharp wit, interesting story and fun characters are perfectly balanced and I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

 DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: The Charlemagne Connection by RM Carmel: Savor Like a Fine Wine

The Charlemagne Connection

By R.M. Cartmel

263 pagesThe Charlemagne Connection

Commander Charlemagne Truchaud is back. After the Paris police detective deftly defused the killer in Cartmel’s debut novel, The Richebourg Affair, he assumed his life would more or less return to normal. He returned to his home in Paris, but soon learned that his father’s Alzheimer’s disease was quickly progressing so he must return to his family home in Nuits-Saint-George’s to help care for his dad.

Like many of us, Truchaud is torn. He realizes that his family has to take priority over his career. Unfortunately his decision will not come without a cost. His Divisional Commander willingly agrees that Truchaud needs to help his sister-in-law take care of his worsening father. Even though his boss tells him not to worry about his job in Paris, one of his ambitious co-workers may have another plan.

To complicate matters even more, as soon as the detective arrives at his family’s home and vineyards, he discovers the Nuits-saint-George’s police department has an urgent need he is expected to fill. Instead of interesting cases in Paris, he is now in charge of petty crimes and traffic altercations. But not for long.

The detective takes up residence in the small town, at the same time a young German girl and her friend come to town in search of her brother. He has been missing for months and the clues they found in his apartment have lead them to the tiny village.

Amidst language barriers, cold trails and raging hormones things go from calm to complicated faster than Constable Lenoir’s driving. Lucky for Truchaud, Sergeant Natalie Dutoit can speak to the Germans and comes to assist with the missing person case and often the driving.

The mystery deepens, dad gets worse, and Truchaud realizes he is in love but cannot bring himself to tell her.  The Charlemagne Connection has a lot going on, all of which is entertaining, interesting and intriguing. The end is perfect, and leads me to believe there will be another book in this series. I can’t wait.

As flavorful as a good vintage, with many complimentary layers that are subtle, yet elegant, Truchaud is the perfect detective. Reminiscent of a Parisian Poirot, Truchaud has a bit of Peter Faulk’s Colombo in his personality to balance his tenacity. A bit of bumbling at times makes him endearing as well has his love of Grateful Dead CDs.

Cartmel weaves a masterful tale. His plot is solid from the first word to the last, leaving no stone unturned in the telling of the mystery much like his hero, Commander Charlemagne Truchaud. The story twists and turns, wrapping around itself much like the beloved vines in the small village vineyards.

I highly recommend this series. I do suggest reading The Richebourg Affair first as there are spoiler alerts in The Charlemagne Connection. It will soon become obvious that you will want to read both of these mysteries anyway, so read them in order.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

1 Comment

Filed under alzheimers, Book Review, Mystery, Poirot, Wine

Book Review: The Richebourg Affair

The Richebourg Affair R.M. Cartmel’s novel, The Richebourg Affair is a solid, satisfying mystery set in the tiny village of Nuits-Saint-Georges, France. Commandant Truchaud, a decorated member of the Paris police department receives a call that his brother has died, and he must return home to Nuits-Saint-Georges immediately. His commanding officer insists Truchaud take at least a month off to go home to his family’s Domaine where he can properly attend to the burial of his brother. He also needs to make sure the rest of the family as well as their wine business is on steady footing before he returns to his post in Paris.

He arrives home to find his father in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the family business possibly involved in underhanded dealings and ghosts of his past rearing their heads at the most inopportune times. Truchaud finds a murder victim from an adjoining Domaine soon after his arrival home. Could his brother’s death have been murder instead of the suspected heart attack?

Helping the local police, Truchaud is knee deep in the investigation when he finds himself in more danger than he thought possible in his quiet hometown known for much sought after wines. Rich Burgundy, not blood is supposed to be flowing, but treachery and lies have fermented along with wine for years and the corks are about to pop.

The Richebourg Affair took me a little bit longer to read than a run of the mill mystery due to the different names for the various characters’ roles. Thanks to Cartmel’s handy listing (starting on page 305) of each character’s name and the role in which they play, it made it easier for me to identify each of them. The village is added to my list of main characters, because without this famous wine-producing village, there would not be a story.

I loved this book. So much so, that I researched the cost of the famous Richebourg wine that is discussed by the wine experts throughout the story. I will only be able to dream about the heady bouquet and flavors dancing on my tongue as $1800.00 USD would blow a hole in my budget the size of a Parisian vacation. However, there are more budget friendly options from Nuits-Saint-Georges, which I just might have to purchase for a special occasion.richebourg-2963-1-3

Much to my surprise, this is R.M. Cartmel’s first novel. It is layered with well-developed characters and a solid mystery in addition to the murder(s) set in a most interesting place. It teaches readers about wine growing and producing without a drop of boring lecture. All of the information is skillfully tucked into the story fitting perfectly as a backdrop, but always present. The reader has all of the answers needed to tie up loose ends when Truchaud hosts a dinner with all of the officers on the case as well as those affected by the happenings in the village. After the perfect end to a great story, I am looking forward to many more adventures of Commander Truchaud.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review Image of a classic Richebourg label from wine-researcher.com (http://sr3.wine-searcher.net/images/region/richebourg-2963-1-3.jpg). Also note that this review was also published on my blog: lauramhartman.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under Mystery, Paris, Quick Nav, Wine