Travelling from New York to Bordeaux as a bodyguard for the famous wine critic and friend of her mother's Ellen Jordan, Max Maguire is not expecting her charge to be dead before the trip has barely started. The searing question, apart from the guilt Max feels is, did Ellen die of asphyxiation or was she murdered?
France has further problems for Max.
There's the fact that her mother and consequently Max have been estranged from their French relations for many years. Only now is that fence being mended. Max does make contact with her grandmother, but her uncle, the Minister of Justice Philippe Douvier, is somewhat unnerved by this contact.Maybe more tellingly, there's the renewal of her acquaintance with the investigating magistrate, Olivier Chaumont, whom she just happened to have an affair with last time she was in Bordeaux.
So we have a murder and wines that are being re bottled and passed off as highly expensive vintages by an international counterfeiting ring and a stalled love affair. The counterfeiting problem is exacerbated by the fact that of none of the high flying vintners wants to admit this is occurring as this could negatively affect the wine sales of the region.
The descriptions of the various wines, their bouquet and taste, are intriguing.
There are interesting sidebars where Hubbard contrasts the traditional family life and approaches to life in general of the French over and against the more brash Americans.
A story well played!
A NetGalley ARC