cover image Tangled Vines

Tangled Vines

Janet Dailey. Little, Brown and Company Inc, $21.95 (363pp) ISBN 978-0-316-17156-4

Dailey's latest novel (after Aspen Gold ), which all but begs to be made into a TV miniseries, features elegant nonegarian Katherine Rutledge, who runs her family's Napa Valley winery. Katherine is beset by problems caused by her estranged son, who runs a rival winery, and an alcoholic, n'er-do-well neighbor, Len Dougherty, who lives in squalor on 10 acres given to his family by the Rutledges as compensation for the accidental death of his father, a Rutledge employee. Enter beautiful, ambitious Kelly Douglas, a rising TV newscaster assigned to prepare an in-depth report on the Rutledge winery. Kelly dreads the assignment because it threatens the new life she has built for herself since she escaped her physically abusive father: Dougherty. Soon she is involved in a murder in which her father is the prime suspect, and her loathing for him conflicts with her sense of filial responsibility. Further complications ensue via her attraction to that grows between her and Sam Rutledge, Katherine's grandson and the manager of the Rutledge winery. With a single exception, the plot is predictable; the characters have little substance, and the dialogue is wooden in the extreme. This hackneyed novel will try the loyalty of Dailey's legions of fans. (Sept.)