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Death in the Vines: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery (Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mysteries) Paperback – May 28, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This mystery set in Aix-en-Provence, the third in Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet series, starts with the owner of a renowned winery in Provence realizing that many bottles of wine, some dating as far back as 1929, have been stolen from his cellar. He tries to settle down by touching an ancient object that has comforted him from the time he was a boy, an aquatic fossil in the form of a scallop shell, embedded in the cellar wall. Longworth’s description of this vineyard fossil, common in an area once under the deep sea, and her characterizations of the qualities of different wines are the kind of details that make this series riveting, along with the quirky characters of Aix-en-Provence judge Antoine Verlaque; his girlfriend and co-sleuth, law professor Marine Bonnet; and Police Commissioner Bruno Paulik. But these kinds of enlivening details are, unfortunately, much scarcer here than in the previous two Verlaque and Bonnet stories. The plot, involving murder and grievous bodily harm to several women, is the strong point this time. Not quite as entrancing as earlier series entries but still satisfying for fans. --Connie Fletcher


“Judge Antoine Verlaque, the sleuth in this civilized series, discharges his professional duties with discretion. But we’re here to taste the wines, which are discussed by experts like Hippolyte Thebaud, a former wine thief, and served in beautiful settings like a 300-year-old stone farmhouse. So many bottles, so many lovely views. A reader might be forgiven for feeling woozy.” – Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
“Though the plot is hair-raising, what keeps you glued to this mystery is its vivid portrait of everyday life in Aix, which deftly juxtaposes the elegance of the city…with quotidian woes and pleasures.” – Oprah.com
“What follows is a lovely, almost cozy police procedural that deserves to be read with a glass of wine in hand. Longworth paints such a loving picture of Provence that it's likely you'll start planning a vacation trip to France the moment you set the book down.” – The Denver Post
“As much as the mystery intrigues-in this case some intertwined crimes involving a local winery, a missing elderly woman, and a rich man's suspicious construction project-what really makes Longworth's books enjoyable are the atmosphere and details that she includes of the South of France.” – The Seattle Post Intelligencer 
“This is an intelligently written police procedural with the warm comfort of a baguette with banon cheese.” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
“Enjoyable… the book’s real strength is its evocation of place.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Praise for Murder in the Rue Dumas
Murder in the Rue Dumas is even more spectacular than her first novel, which is no small feat. The pacing is perfect, the characters delightful,
and the setting so real it's impossible not to think you can reach out and touch it. Do not miss this book!’ – Tasha Alexander, author of the Lady Emily series

“As intricate as the mystery is, what provides the most pleasure in reading Murder in the Rue Dumas is Longworth’s description of Verlaque and Bonet’s daily lives… one can practically smell the freshly-baked croissants.” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer 

“Fans of European sleuths with a taste for good food … will have fun.” – Publisher's Weekly

“What really makes Longforth’s writing special is her deep knowledge of French history, landscape, cuisine, and even contemporary cafes and restaurants. This is that rare atmospheric mystery that is street-wise and café-canny.” – Booklist (starred review)

“Longworth’s gentle procedural succeeds on several levels, whether it’s for academic and literary allusions, police work, or armchair travel. With deftly shifting points of view, Longworth creates a beguiling read that will appeal to Louise Penny and Donna Leon fans.” – Library Journal

“French-set mysteries have never been more popular [and] among the very best is a series set in Provence featuring Monsieur Verlaque, an examining magistrate, and his sometime girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet.” – The Denver Post

Praise For Death at the Chateau Bremont

"This first novel in a projected series has charm, wit, and Aix-en- Provence all going for it. Longworth's voice is like a rich vintage of sparkling Dorothy Sayers and grounded Donna Leon...Longworth has lived in Aix since 1997, and her knowledge of the region is apparent on every page. Bon appétit."— Booklist

..A promising debut for Longworth, who shows there's more to France than Paris and more to mystery than Maigret."— Kirkus

"Your readers will eat this one up."— Library Journal

"Death at Chateau Bremont is replete with romance, mystery, and a rich atmosphere that makes the south of France spring off the page in a manner reminiscent of Donna Leon's Venice. A wonderful start to a series sure to gain a legion of fans."

— Tasha Alexander

"Mystery and romance served up with a hearty dose of French cuisine. I relished every word. Longworth does for Aix-en-Provence what Frances Mayes does for Tuscany: You want to be there-NOW!"

— Babara Fairchild, former editor-in-chief, Bon Appetit magazine

"Longworth has a good eye and a sharp wit, and this introduction to Verlaque and Bonnet holds promise for a terrific series."

— Globe and Mail


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Product Details

  • Series: Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mysteries
  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143122444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143122449
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

M. L . Longworth has written for The Washington Post, The Times (London), The Independent, and Bon Appétit magazine. She is the author of a mystery series set in Southern France, Verlaque and Bonnet Provençal Mysteries, published by Penguin USA. 'Death at the Château Bremont' was published in June 2011, 'Murder in the rue Dumas' in 2012, 'Death in the Vines,' in 2013 and 'Murder on the Ile Sordou' on Sept 30, 2014.

She has lived full-time in France for over seventeen years and divides her time between Aix-en-Provence, where she writes, and Paris, where she teaches writing at New York University's Paris campus.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
DEATH IN THE VINES is the third Verlaque & Bonnet mystery. While thoroughly enjoyable, this one doesn't work too well as a standalone; readers new to the series will probably want to start with the first one, Death at the Chateau Bremont. Convincingly set in Aix-en-Provence, the series features Judge Antoine Verlaque, an examining magistrate (sort of equivalent to a U.S. detective), and Professor Marine Bonnet, a law professor at the Universite d'Aix. The novels are "cozy" mysteries, but they're also police procedurals. For me, they offer a pleasant change of pace, because Verlaque's investigation is conducted according to French law and procedure.

DEATH IN THE VINES opens with the discovery of a devastating theft of vintage wines from a winery managed by the wife of Verlaque's subordinate, Commissioner Paulik. Because Verlaque has a family errand in Paris, he consults a wine expert--a convicted but reformed wine thief, a flamboyant character in his own right--for insight into the crime. But before Verlaque can solve the wine theft, his attention is diverted to solving the murder of a young woman who was attacked at home and discovered alive but too late to be saved, and to locating a rich older woman who has disappeared and may be suffering from Alzheimer's.

In this series entry, there are significant developments in the romantic relationship between Antoine and Marine, and there are important revelations about Antoine's early life that explain his difficulty in committing to Marine. In the story's background, there is interesting information about wines, grapes, and winery management; and there are lovely descriptions of beautiful old Provencal homes.
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Format: Paperback
Savage crimes against women darken this third Verlaque and Bonnet Provençal mystery (2013) as Judge Antoine Verlaque and his six-foot-two former-rugby-player-Commissioner Bruno Paulik race against the clock in an attempt to determine what all of the victims had in common. As each suspect is examined in turn, the reader is steeped in the aromatic flavors and wines of Provence, and also learns quite a bit about antique French automobiles.

The narrative voice shifts between multiple characters, including one of the victims, who wanders between her current and childhood homes in an age-clouded daze. Readers might sympathize with this carefully dressed, carefully coiffed woman with designer glasses, who queues up at the market to buy vegetables for her evening pot-au-feu. She obviously cares for her little dog, Coco. But she has just argued with her sister, disinherited her nephew, accused her doctor of performing unnecessary surgery, and started legal proceedings against her neighbor. Not only that, Mme d'Arras is a confirmed queue-jumper. We've all had little old ladies cut in front of us in line, and maybe for a brief second, there was murder in our hearts, too.

A second mystery involves the family of law professor Marine Bonnet, Monsieur Verlaque's long-time mistress. Vintage wines are disappearing from her father's extensive cellar: "...two magnums of 1989 red; one magnum of 1975 white; three bottles of 1954 red (which happened to be [her father's] favorite); two bottles of 1978 white (that was old for a white, and they had probably gone off now); three bottles of 1946 red (the first vintage after six years of war and [her grandfather's] favorite); and a 1929 magnum that was the very last from [her great-grandfather's] first bottling.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked Death in Vines but not as much as the prior Verlaque series books. Somehow I felt something was missing?
I love Longworth's story telling and knowledge of south of France. The food, the wine. But I felt it the story did not deliver the excitement I felt towards the characters in the prior books.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Death in the Vines has just been published. As an amateur reviewer, I received a free copy. I did not initially realize that this book was the third one in a series. But I had no difficulty completely enjoying this story.
It takes place in Provence, France, an area about which I know almost nothing. So the cultural practices and scenery descriptions were wonderful. I felt as if I had literally seen a small glimpse into the area, and I would definitely like to visit it now.
The story inter-weaves three plot lines in a masterful manner. There are a series of rare wine thefts at one winery, there are two disappearances of an elderly lady that ends with her being found dead after her second disappearance, and, there seems to be a serial killer starting a spree.
One knows there are interactive relationships between these three plots, but it is not clear in what ways until the very end.
One element that I liked especially is that all the plot lines were not resolved in a neat package at the end, but each one resolved in it's own time over the last third of the book.
I am highly recommending this book. It is a good piece of literature. It is a finely crafted mystery. There are interesting, multi-layered characters. And then there is the setting of Aix-en-Provence, the wine country, and small town life. I am going to find the first two books in the series and finish those as well!
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