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Monday, July 7, 2014

Wine Plays A Role In A Mystery That Goes Back To World War II

Deadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen is the first book I've read in the Wine Detective novels which were also made into a series for French television.  The edition I read was from Le French Book, a publisher which is making current popular French fiction available in English.   I received my copy from Net Galley, and here is my review.


Due to my B.A. in history, my favorite type of mystery is one that involves history.  When I found out that this particular volume in the Wine Detective series had to do with World War II, I was hooked.  Despite the fact that I have read other books taking place in France during World War II, Alaux and  Balen had things to teach me about that period of French history through their engaging mystery plot.  I learned about organizations for Nazi collaborators.  I found out about the weinführers whose mission was to send all the best French wines back to Germany, and a Portuguese diplomat who saved 30,000 Jews.  You can find out more about him from the linked article on the Yad Vashem website.  Yad Vashem is the Israeli Holocaust museum.  

So how could wine be a clue to a murderous grudge that goes back to Vichy France?  The murderer left twelve wine glasses at the scene of every crime with an ever increasing number of them filled with wine.  The Wine Detective, Benjamin Cooker, was called in by police to identify the vintage and the case develops from there.

The authors show that when terrible crimes are kept secret, the buried truth can surface even decades later to trouble both the living and the dead.  The mystery turned out to be somewhat predictable, but I appreciated the insights of the Wine Detective about history, humanity and wine.  I hope to discover other books in this series that interested me as much as this one.




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