Sweet Poison

William Relling, Jr., Author
William Relling, Jr., Author Walker & Company $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3316-0
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
In an agreeable blend of wine, food and murder, Jack Donne, former Treasury agent and PI who now grows wine with his father in Southern California, makes his second appearance, following Deadly Vintage (1995). Powerful and obnoxious wine and restaurant critic Augustus Poole is scheduled to be the featured guest at a weekend gathering of the snooty NAMES (North American Epicurean Society) at a friend's vineyard. Poole is convinced, however, that someone is trying to murder him and will attend only if a bodyguard is provided to protect him and his secretary. Reluctantly, Donne agrees. Poole--obese, egotistical, caustic and, at least in his own mind, brilliant--bears resemblance to Nero Wolfe (the book carries an epigraph by Rex Stout). When verbal violence leads to a confrontation and a death, Donne finds himself investigating the many NAMES members who would be only too happy to see Poole dead. Meanwhile, the still living Poole unhelpfully decides that he himself must solve the crime. Relling makes appealing use of the beautiful Santa Ynez countryside and its vineyards. The plot goes down smoothly accompanied by descriptions of fine cuisine, including some tempting red herrings, and many vintages, some of surprising potency. (June)
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