Release Date: Sep 24, 2019
Series: Rose Avenue Wine Club
Annie “Halsey” Hall moved from New York City to Mar Vista, California and now enjoys spending time with her friends in the Rose Avenue Wine Club. Halsey and her rescue dog, Bardot, are on the scene when a local pizzeria catches fire, but they are too late to save the delivery driver. The owners of the restaurant are suspected of purposely setting fire to the restaurant. Halsey and the rest of the wine club work together to find out who really set the fire that led to Roberto’s death before the killer strikes again.
Clarets of Fire is the fourth book in this series and it’s hard to jump in without having read the prior books. I read one of the earlier books and was still having a hard time keeping track of all the different characters. However, I love the idea of the wine club and enjoy the interactions between Halsey and her good friends Sally and Peggy. In addition, she and her fiancé. Jack, make a good couple. They have a friendship as well as a romance and support each other both in the investigation and in other aspects of their lives. Since I haven’t read all of the prior books, I think I’ve missed something about Marisol, the mayor. I never connected with this character and couldn’t figure out her relationship with Halsey. Marisol seems to be a loyal friend of Halsey’s in some scenes and more of a flaky frenemy in others.
Excluding Marisol, the rest of the wine club have a good rapport. They have fun spending time together eating and trying different wines, and they also work well in the arson investigation. I enjoyed seeing the mystery unfold, although as it progressed, some of the plot points became hard to follow. The details are eventually explained at the end, but I was still left with a feeling that some things didn’t quite add up. The epilogue wrapped things up with the case and includes a development that those closely following the series will especially appreciate. After the epilogue, I like that the author included a list of all the different types of wines Halsey and her friends sampled throughout the story. There is also a useful description of wine-related gift ideas, such as decanters and bottle stoppers. Overall, this is an enjoyable light mystery centered around a group of friends with a common interest in food, wine, friendship, and sleuthing.