★★★★★ In the Finger Lakes region of New York State, you can be sure you’ll experience warm hospitality, gorgeous landscapes, and world-class wines. Murder is the last thing on the locals’ minds, until a car catches fire with a young woman trapped inside. Meet Louis Deville, a man reluctantly roped into solving a mystery while miles away from his home base. As tourism in the quaint small town starts to drop off in the wake of suspicious criminal activity, Deville must navigate his way through a maze of creepy children, bumbling detectives, and red herrings to solve the case in this wonderfully told story fit for reading by a roaring fire or on a tranquil dock.
Don Stevens’ newest installment in the Finger Lakes Wine Mystery Series (which functions perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, for any hesitant readers) hits all the marks of a great food-centric mystery. Stevens is a gifted author, weaving a story where plot and character development both work overtime to give every person Deville meets an astounding level of depth and reason. This zippy murder mystery’s fully fleshed-out cast helps the entire book feel completely realized, and also makes the twists and turns in the story (of which there are many) carry more gravitas. The author crafts dialogue that feels realistic and purposeful, and his descriptions of wine and the Greater Finger Lakes region are good enough to make you want to put the book down and buy a ticket to see the terrain with your own eyes—if only you could manage to pull yourself away from the page.