Friday, 4 April 2014

BOOK TOUR & REVIEW & GIVEAWAY - Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen ~ Cosy Mystery.

E-Release date: Jan 30, 2014 by Le French Book

Number of pages - 150

ISBN-13: 978-1939474087
p-release: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1939474049


After Treachery in Bordeauxhere is another Epicurean whodunit in French wine country. Immerse yourself in French countryside and gourmet attitude with our wine-loving amateur sleuths. This time they gumshoe around the Loire Valley before heading back to Bordeaux.

One winter day in Paris, renowned wine critic Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down when his car gets highjacked. He loses his treasured tasting notebook and his feeling of safety. To recover, he retreats to the region around Tours, sure that the wine and off-season calm will restore is sense of self. There a flamboyant British dandy, a spectacular blue-eyed blond, a zealous concierge and touchy local police disturb his well-deserved rest. From the Loire Valley to Bordeaux, in between a glass of Vouvray and a bottle of Saint-Émilion, the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and very peculiar heist. Who stole those bottles of grand cru classé? Take this Epicurean journey through France to solve the whodunit. [provided by the publisher]

Author’s website | Goodreads


Paris finally returned to its splendor at dusk. Lights from the cruise boats caressed the buildings on the Left Bank. The bridges cast wavering shadows on the waters of the Seine. At the corner of the Rue Dauphine, a few patches of half-melted snow, curiously saved from the passing footsteps, were shining under the streetlights.

Benjamin Cooker had felt deprived of light all day. He awaited this miraculous hour, when everything could be reborn in the fleeting glow of night. As he got older, he had less tolerance for the unchanging leaden sky that covered Paris in winter. Everything, from the pallid faces of café servers to the hotel concierge’s waxy complexion, the bare trees in the Tuileries Gardens, and the homeless camping out on the subway grates, seemed dull and gray. He had loved this city in his happy-go-lucky days, and now he found it suffocating.

Here, even the snow was hoary, dirty, and reduced to mud in a few hours with the constant comings and goings of the city. He missed peaceful Médoc, and he was impatient to return to his home, Grangebelle, the next day. The vineyards would be superb, all white and wrapped in silence. The cold would be dry and refreshing, and the sky nearly royal blue. He would go for a solitary walk along the Gironde just to hear the snow crunch under his boots. Elisabeth got cold easily and would probably remain in front of the fire in the living room, her hands around a steaming cup of tea.

Benjamin Cooker drove slowly, letting his gloves glide over the steering wheel while he whistled along with a Chopin nocturne on the radio. According to the too-ceremonious radio host, it was Opus 19. He was comfortable, settled into the leather seat of his classic Mercedes 280SL. He turned onto Pont des Arts to get to his hotel, which was near the opera house. The red light was taking forever. He lifted the collar of his Loden and turned up the radio as someone approached the car, flicking his thumb to mimic a lighter. Cooker squinted to get a better look at the man’s face. It was hidden under a hood, but he seemed young, despite his stooped, somewhat misshapen form. Cooker shook his head and waved his hands to indicate that he did not smoke.

The light turned green, but Cooker did not have time to accelerate. His car door opened suddenly, as if it had been ripped off, and cold air rushed in.

“Take that, rich bastard.”
The man pulled out a switchblade. Cooker did not move. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Breathe slowly. Think fast. He felt the tip of the knife on his Adam’s apple and gulped. A second man opened the other door and searched the glove compartment.
“Get rid of him,” he said, unbuckling Cooker’s seat belt.
The hooded man hit Cooker twice in the jaw, grabbed him by the tie, and dragged him to the ground. Then the thug kicked him in the stomach, head, and ribs
—“Take that, asshole.” The taste of blood and thick grit from the pavement burned his lips
—“Your mother’s a bitch.” A final glance, a few notes of Chopin
—“Eat shit, dirtbag!”—and screeching tires. Then nothing.

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My Review

The synopsis for the book really intrigued me. A mystery novel with an amateur sleuth, set in the beautiful French countryside. I love a cosy mystery.

I've read a few cosy mystery's lately and was looking forward to this one set in France. The book started off with lots of promise for me. Benjamin Cooker, a famous wine critic, was badly beaten and car-jacked in Paris, with his treasured note book taken too. However, sadly for me, as I read more, the book lacked substance, and didn't really grip me. Yes there was a murder mystery but it didn't really feature until about a third of the way through the book, and hardly any focus was made on it.  More focus seemed to be made on the main characters journey and his love of a beautiful car which belonged to a fellow travel and wine connoisseur. Also too much focus was made on different wines and not being a wine drinker they didn't mean anything to me and I found myself skimming sentences.

For a mystery book, it was a light hearted and quick read and did have a plot line, but for me I would have liked more pages on the book and more dialogue in relation to the actual plot with more police involvement, and a lot less discussion of various different wines which to me seemed to go on too long.

There are other books written by the authors and I would give them a try in the hope that they would have a bit more substance.

Just a 3/5 for me on this one.

Paper: pre-order from your local bookstoreABOUT THE AUTHORS


©David Nakache
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist
when he is not writing novels in southwestern France.

He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou.
He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine.
He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series, which he coauthors with Noël Balen.

Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music.
He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.
The translator, Anne Trager loves France so much she has lived there for over a half a century and just can’t seem to leave. What keeps her there is a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction, mysteries and detective novels.


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  1. sorry this didn't work too well for you. I liked the next one, Nightmare in Burgundy, but I love one and I am from Burgundy, so I very well all the places he talks about. and a good mystery, I think

  2. Hello. Thanks for taking the time to read this. The authors of this series make no secret about the books being as much wine novels as they are whodunits. For the authors, each novel in the series is a way of paying homage to a wine region, and all those involved in producing wine, which I guess explains why there's so much about the wine.


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