Book: The Merlot Murders

The book: The Merlot Murders, by Ellen Crosby

The edition: Pocket Books paperback, 340 pages plus complimentary first chapter of The Chardonnay Charade

The story: Lucie Montgomery has been away from the family vineyard for two years, trying to recover from an accident that left her crippled. She suddenly needs to go back when her father is found dead in what seems to be an accident — or rather, does not seem to be an accident. She finds that everything has changed, and she needs to find out about her father death while trying to save the family vineyard from bankruptcy, and without knowing whom to trust anymore.

My experience with the book & my thoughts: I am not a sucker for mysteries. I tend to read them, enjoy them, and immediately forget them (I happened to read the same book more than once without realizing it until the end). I found this one to be good, well constructed, mysterious enough and enticing to read.
But I just cannot believe that in Lucie’s two years of absence so many things had changed. She just had to say she’d been away 10 years, and I would have believed all of it.
And is it wrong that the only character I could care for was Hector, who gets like two pages in the whole novel? Oh, and Lucie’s mother, who is dead anyway…

What I liked: many storylines! It kept me guessing and guessing, which is good for a detective novel…

What I didn’t like: many storylines! So many that I already forgot who the murderer was, and why… (OK, almost forgot.)

Language & writing: I went into this book knowing that the author had got her wine lingo and theory right. Yet those parts often sounded like extracts from a course book. Almost patronizing.

Random question: OK, not so random: anyone knows what sparrow-bright means?

Read this if: if you like cozy and intricate mysteries, this is a good one.

Counts as: One Two Theme Challenge – Wine book #1

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2 comments on “Book: The Merlot Murders

  1. OK, not so random: anyone knows what sparrow-bright means?

    Given the context you provide in that post, my guess is that it means “His eyes were bright like a sparrow’s”. The OED doesn’t list it, so it’s probably a word that the author made up herself and understanding it depends on knowing how to interpret the word as well as knowing what emotional connotations sparrow eyes have in general. (My suspicion is that it’s supposed to convey a sense of good-natured mischief, but not knowing the rest of the context I’m only taking stabs in the dark.)

    If you see a compound adjective like this, it’s generally safe to assume that it should be interpreted the way I did, actually. ^-^ The only exception is when the interpretation you come up with doesn’t fit in the context of the sentence, but those’ll be rare and probably found in the dictionary anyway.

    Hope that helps with the word! ^-^

  2. Shanra, thanks for trying. It does help.
    I did know it was a creation from the author, and I did know how to work out the compound, but for some reason I couldn’t see the genitive. So I thought “eyes like a sparrow” = brown? It didn’t make sense.
    As for connotations, “eyes like a sparrow’s” would mean “fragile, defenceless” to me… and that too would make little sense with the context. “Sparrow-mischief” is not a natural association to me, but you must be right, because those eyes are coupled with a smile that is described thus: “There was something vaguely Big BadWolf abut that smile”.
    Thanks.

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