I’ve just finished reading the next Winemaker Detective book, Flambé in Armagnac, being released this summer! Previous reviews will tell you of my great affinity for this series, and I have no hesitation in saying each one is better and better.
The opening was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time – taking an everyday item or occurrence, in this case, buying a yearly calendar, and spinning it to draw the reader in with a great visual hook. I re-read it about three times for the sheer pleasure of a cool bit of writing, those little moments in books that stick with you even when the other quotes have faded.
At this point in the series we *know* there’s going to be a mystery or some puzzle to solve, so the authors turn our expectation around on itself by introducing an insurance claim for Cooker to investigate. To still keep us on our toes, however, they add a few layers to what is going on, several mysteries at once to solve. It makes for a busy, but exciting read.
Flambé in Armagnac is interesting in that the resolution and explanation comes straight from the culprit’s mouth, unlike the previous works where we are looking back and someone else is explaining it. In this case, it was the best way to bring conclusion to everything that had happened, and also show the authors’ strengths in varying their style, even within the same series.
As always, food, wine, and even more food, but this time the reader isn’t just treated to the sights, smells and tastes in consumption, but also while preparing the dishes! I liked the expansion of this central part of these works – it made it feel more accessible to me, as a reader without much prior knowledge of the French plate.
Beyond all the mysteries and food, there was another, slightly veiled theme that stays with the reader, to muse upon once the rush of solving the puzzle passes. That being, how far-reaching and impactful the actions of one family, even one person, can be on those around them. This is the first time where not only the great cuisine but also the mystery can be pulled out and looked at in the context of the reader’s own life and experiences.
We get to know more about Virgile, and hear from his point of view a great deal. This was one of the best aspects of this book to me, as we finally start to really understand him not just as apprentice, but assistant, and heir-apparent to Cooker’s legacy. Seeing from his view also gave us more moments of intentional humor and joking, which made this book both a fun, and at times, funny read.
I cannot wait for you to get your own copy!
I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley.