Seven Deadly Zins: A Sonoma Wine Country Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
Crooked Lane Books (January 8, 2019)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07DTJ7DQQ
Which suspect drowned an inspector in the Zinfandel? Sonoma tour guide Taylor O’Brian uncorks another intoxicating Sonoma Wine Country mystery.
Taylor O’Brian, founder of “Off the Beaten Path”, takes small groups on wine country tours of romantic Sonoma County. Friends are everything in the tour business, so Taylor is happy to guide investors to the winery owned by her friend Tim Slade. But vintage turns to vinegar when an FDA inspector is found floating face down in one of Tim’s vats of squished grapes.
Tim is arrested on suspicion of murder, and Taylor and her friends rally to prove his innocence. But it’s not an easy task, especially since the winery proprietor’s acidic sense of humor tends to reap a harvest of sour grapes. Taylor’s investigation is withering on the vine until she discovers that Tim’s girlfriend, Mandy, is having an affair with a self-help guru. But before she has a chance to confront Mandy, Taylor finds Tim standing over the body of the dead guru.
This tart turn of events sends a bottle shock through Sonoma. Might Taylor’s friend really be a Zin-ful killer? If so, could Taylor be the next victim? The tour guide and her friends come to realize that the true murderer’s scent is obscured by an unsavory bouquet of red herrings.
Taylor O’Brian owns Off the Beaten Path Wine Country Tours. She offers unique outings for small groups to visit local wineries and other points of interest in Sonoma County. This time she has a group of investors and their first stop is a winery owned by her friend Tim Slade. Unfortunately when Tim demonstrates one of the key processes of winemaking he gets a terrible surprise. A body in one of the vats. Without an alibi, he is arrested. Tim can rub some folks the wrong way, but he is not a killer. Since this is not the first time Taylor has been involved in a murder investigation she knows the ropes. She knows she is going to have to come up with a least one alternate suspect. Strangely it is a visit to see a self-help guru that points Taylor in the right direction. Yes, she is there when another dead body is found, but it helps her to start to uncork this wine filled mystery.
There is a lot happening in this story and at times it gets to be a little chaotic. In addition to the main murder mystery, Taylor learns she has new competition in the wine tour realm. I must say the other woman seems far more organized and business savvy, she makes Taylor look like an amateur. Also, Dr. Adam Brinkman, a renowned self-help guru comes to town and crowds are lined up for his seminars. Aunt Jemma leads a “seance” when her psychic friend is unavailable and then that psychic takes over one of Taylor’s tours when Taylor has to handle a family crisis. It all blends together but not as smoothly as I would have liked. There is a really nice twist at the end that really saved this story for me.
Taylor has evolved a little bit since the first book, A Case of Syrah, Syrah, but I still find her frustrating. She is her own worst enemy. She pushes ahead without a clear plan of where she is headed or what she is trying to accomplish. She leads with her heart and not with her head, which can be endearing until it happens too often. I enjoyed her get-togethers with her friends and the relationship she has with her aunt. There are two potential love interests for her but she is indecisive about them as well.
The setting is wonderful. I could picture most of the places traveled very easily. I have always wanted to take a vacation to Sonoma and visit as many wineries as possible. The setting and the colorful covers are what really drew me to this series.
This story missed the mark for me a little bit, but I have hope that Taylor will continue to evolve and I will grow to like her as much as I do the supporting cast.
Find out more about Nancy J. Parra/Nancy Coco and her books on her webpage here.
Written as Nancy Coco
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”