cover image Bitter Roots

Bitter Roots

Ellen Crosby. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9102-0

Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist Crosby’s winning 12th Wine Country mystery (after 2021’s The French Paradox) finds Virginia vintner Lucie Montgomery and fellow winemaker Quinn Santori preparing for their wedding. Days that should be filled with joy and frizzy nerves, however, are overshadowed by dying vines in a field of new Cabernet Franc grapes. Lucie and Quinn bring in Josie Wilde, “the premier vineyard consultant on the East Coast,” to determine why they’re failing to thrive. Josie blames the grafted vines themselves, bought from local supplier Landau Trees & Vines. Landau’s partners, who include Eve Kerr, a former Californian like Quinn, deny culpability, blaming the growers and climate change. As the blame game heats up, Quinn comes to believe Eve isn’t involved and plans to meet her secretly. When Eve turns up dead, Quinn becomes a suspect, and Lucie once again turns sleuth. Astute readers may figure out whodunit before the end, but the fully developed characters and the vividly depicted vineyards and Virginia countryside make this one hard to put down. Crosby scores another compulsively readable vino-themed mystery. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Apr.)