Written by Cathy Ace — Having reviewed Cathy Ace’s debut, the Corpse with the Silver Tongue, now we move on to a cadaver with a golden nose. It seems the series could take in various parts of the anatomy and precious metals, and once again we encounter the strong-minded criminology professor Cait Morgan. This time, she is back home in British Columbia, Canada.
A few months have passed since the events described in the previous book and Cait has embarked on a romantic relationship with her good friend, recently widowed Bud Anderson. Bud is a retired homicide detective and finds himself called in to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of award-winning young vintner Annette Newman – the one with the ‘golden nose’ for selecting the best grapes. Annette’s sister and business partner, Ellen, refuses to accept the verdict of suicide. She believes that someone in their small community of wine-growers and restaurateurs is responsible for her sister’s death. So she uses the very exclusive gourmet event called The Moveable Feast to invite Bud and Cait to mingle among the suspects and find out the truth.
Cait is never one to turn down the combination of delicious food and fine wine, so she tags along to the picturesque vineyards above Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. But life is not quite as idyllic as it may seem in this popular vacation spot. The neighbours are a varied and distinctive bunch of people, all wrapped up in their own private obsessions and intrigues. They include retired rock stars, bitchy femmes fatales, ambitious rival vintners, stressed businessmen and a couple of lifestyle gurus. But could any of these colourful people have been driven to murder? As Bud and Cait examine the clues, it becomes obvious that the murderer won’t hesitate to strike again in an effort to cover their tracks.
This novel is most certainly on the cosy side of the spectrum: perfect comfort reading. You could call it Agatha Christie set in the modern world, with great dollops of lovingly described food and drink. The story may be a little far-fetched, but it’s a lovely romp of a read. I like the humour and energy of the series. The quirky characters are never quite stereotypes, while the charming setting is described with just enough detail to make us want to explore the area. But the best thing about this series is Cait herself. She is such a fun, enjoyable character: not the young, glamorous action girl detective, nor the gossipy, ever-knitting Miss Marple type, but a living, breathing, real woman with her own foibles and self-admitted weaknesses. There are so many lovely little details: this sensible Welsh woman is almost fully acclimatised to her Canadian setting, but still eager to discuss Doctor Who with a teenager.
A delightful addition to the cosy mystery sub-genre in scenic settings, it converted even this lover of noir to a calmer, gentler place.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars