Release Date: Oct 19, 2021
Series: A Colorado Wine Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Group
Parker Valentine owns a premier winery in Boulder, Colorado. She is excited to combine business with pleasure when she visits a nearby ski resort with her boyfriend, brother, and best friend over Valentine’s Day weekend. She is able to make a pitch for the resort to add one of her wines to their menu and is thrilled when the owner, a former Olympic skier, agrees to the deal. However, the celebration is premature because the next morning, Parker finds the lifeless body of the owner out on the ski slopes. Parker at first simply shares something she witnessed with a member of local law enforcement, but soon puts the fun part of her trip aside to investigate Annmarie’s tragic death.
This is the third book in the Colorado Wine Mystery series. I’ve only read one of the prior books, but had no problem getting to know the characters. The main characters are all fairly likable, but I couldn’t fully connect with them. Parker comes across as self-centered much of the time. She explains her aversion to celebrating Valentine’s Day, which is putting a damper on the weekend, but it seems overly dramatic. I am glad she eventually acknowledges this and tries to overcome it. I know this happens a lot in cozy mysteries, but in this book it seems especially contrived that Parker would become so involved in the murder investigation of someone she had only met once. Her confrontation of all the suspects at the end is a little hard to believe, but does get results.
Although her motivation for going all in seems weak, the book is entertaining. Parker is a capable amateur sleuth, using her knowledge of people to read witnesses and suspects. She also does a good job of sharing what she learns with Jenny, the sheriff officially investigating the case. I really enjoy the information about wines and winemaking included in the story, which keeps the book true to the premise of the series. I began craving some of the mulled wine that Parker kept describing, so fortunately there are directions on how to prepare your own at the end. I’m not a skier, but the author also does a good job of helping the reader visualize the setting of the resort and the ski runs. The mystery itself is interesting and I was convinced I knew the identity of the killer, but I was wrong. I was pleased to be surprised, and the solution is logical once everything is explained. Overall, this is a fast-paced cozy that is coming out just in time for the beginning of fall and cooler weather.