The blurbs on this book paint a vision of a book that will hold you spell-bound. Words such as daring crime, gripping, arch-criminal, bizarre twists, and sinister plot. Unfortunately the book does not live up to the expectations that these words convey.
The book does tell the story of a threat to one of France’s greatest vineyards, but it keeps deviating to give you a history of France, a history of the wine industry, a history of the winemaker and his family history, and other things only loosely connected to the wine industry, or the crime. Items from the 18th century, the 19th and the 20th pop in and out of the story in no particular order, usually just when the story of the crime gets interesting. In fact, when the criminal is about to be apprehended one of the characters begins thinking of his daughters and the book takes several pages to tell us about their names and about his wife. None of which relates to the story.
The book has so much potential as a crime story (actually there is almost nothing about the police investigation methods in the book), as a history of wine in France, or as a portrait of a great winemaker. Unfortunately it can’t stay focused on any one aspect long enough to hold you and so it doesn’t do any one of them well .