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Is is Merlot? Or Murder? Deadly Tasting from @LeFrenchBook #review


An episode in a long successful French mysteries series that is a hit television series now in its fourth season  and attracting an audience of over 4 million.  The series is a huge success in France, Belgium and Switzerland. I hope one day we can get it streaming here, it is a rather festive story with a few solid likeable characters. Deadly Tasting follows books 1-3; Treachery in BordeauxGrand Cru Heist, and Nightmare in Burgundy


Is is Merlot? Or Murder? Deadly Tasting from @LeFrenchBook #reviewDeadly Tasting
Series: The Winemaker Detective Series Book 4
by Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN
Pages: 140
Length: 3 hrs and 9 mins
Published by Le French Book
on 2014-10-17
Genres: Cozy, Fiction, International Mystery & Crime, Mystery & Detective
Amazon • Kobo • Audible • • Goodreads •
When wine tasting turns to murder.

A serial killer is on the loose in Bordeaux. A local chief detective calls wine expert Benjamin Cooker to the crime scene of a brutal murder. The killer has left a strange calling card: twelve wine glasses lined up in a semi-circle with the first one filled with wine. Cooker is charged with the task of identifying the fabulous grand cru and is astonished by what he learns. A second victim is found, with two glasses filled. Is the killer intentionally leaving clues about his victims and his motives? Memories are jogged about the complicated history of Bordeaux during Nazi occupation. It was a dark time: weinfuhrers ruled the wine trade, while collaborationists and paramilitary organizations spread terror throughout the region. In present-day wine country, time is running out. Will Cooker and his young assistant Virgile solve the mystery before all twelve glasses are full?

Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover, and won the Antonin Carême prize for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou.

Noël Balen lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making re- cords, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.

A twenty-two-book series A hit on television in France.

“I love good mysteries. I love good wine. So imagine my joy at finding a great mystery about wine, and winemaking, and the whole culture of that fascinating world. And then I find it’s the first of a series. I can see myself enjoying many a bottle of wine while enjoying the adventures of Benjamin Cooker in this terrific new series.” —William Martin, New York Times bestselling author

“A fine vintage forged by the pens of two very different varietals. It is best consumed slightly chilled, and never alone. You will be intrigued by its mystery, and surprised by its finish, and it will stay with you for a very long time.” —Peter May, prize-winning, international bestselling author

“An excellent mystery series in which you eat, drink and discuss wine as much as you do murders.” —Bernard Frank, Le Nouvel Observateur

“Benjamin Cooker uses his composure, erudition and intuition to solve heady crimes that take place in the exclusive—and realistic—world of grand cru wines.” —Jean-Claude Raspiengeas, La Croix


Deadly Tasting, the fourth in wonderful mystery series, wine sommelier with our amatuer detective Benjamin Cooker. I was gifted the first three of the series and totally lost myself for a few days reading all the antics. I love books which wrap around the celebration of fine wine and great food. By the time we get to Deady Tasting Benjamin is getting older and apparently his wife is against replacing buttons. i.e. He needs to lose a few stones. For a book about someone who loves good food, amazing wine and the perfect Cuban cigar.

Having visited Bordeaux when I was in Europe in the 80’s this was a delete to read. Though there was only a few descriptive scenes the flavor of the writing brought back some really fun memories, even when they were standing over the latest body of the serial killer. I love the whole premise of how the killer leaves twelves wine glasses. With each body they find another glass if filled and the real detectives call on Cooker to find out if there was any significance in the wine. That is when the fun started. Why would someone leave a glass of wine, and why this one particular wine? The significance could be found in the history of the region some of the ugliest from WWII and German’s occupation of France..

It is a novella and I have no issues with cozy mysteries, but this is not a cozy the way I see them and have read them. Cozies almost 100% features the crime-solver as a woman who is an amateur sleuth. She usually has a college degree, whether she is using it or not. I think perhaps this is still in the same vein, but it threw me off a bit when I saw cozy. ANYWAY what it is, is a mystery. The translation is wonderful (originally in French). I think the novella format doesn’t do this story justice, or there was just to much missing info to make all the dots connected. I had figured out whodunit right when the killer was introduced into the investigation but the mystery really was why. The end was so abrupt it didn’t do the tension building justice. I ended up going back and seeing if I slept my way through a part or accidentally missed a clue. Compared to the others I was a little let down. Over all the book is an easy three stars and the added bonus of such an interesting block of WWII history we usually do not hear about.

Now I wish we could get the TV streaming here in the US, this does read like a TV episode and I think perhaps this is some of what is missing in the story itself which does not need to be written out if you are writing a scene. The series is one I will be continuing to read just to find out what diet the poor man will be stuck on next for his wife or what trouble Benjamin Cooker is going to get in next.


About Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN

Is is Merlot? Or Murder? Deadly Tasting from @LeFrenchBook #review

Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize. He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series, which he writes with Noël Balen. It is a 22-strong series that is a hit on French television and is now being translated into English by Le French Book.


Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage.  Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at Colorado University Boulder.  She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset.  She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena.  She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.




Is is Merlot? Or Murder? Deadly Tasting from @LeFrenchBook #review

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One Comment

  1. thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book, and knowing you are hooked for the series! very enjoyable!


  1. France Book Tours stops for October 13-19 - […] Wednesday, October 15 Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at I’d Rather Be At The BeachThursday, October 16 Review +…
  2. Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen on Tour: Deadly Tasting - […] Thursday, October 16 Review + Giveaway at Cabin Goddess […]
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