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The Chardonnay Charade: A Wine Country Mystery (Wine Country Mysteries) Hardcover – August 7, 2007

41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Abizarre May frost threatens Lucie Montgomery's Virginia winery operation in this highly enjoyable sequel to Crosby's The Merlot Murders (2006). After spending the night keeping her vines from freezing, the easily peeved Lucie is less than thrilled to find the pesticide-contaminated body of Georgia Greenwood, a local politician, at the edge of her fields. Lucie leaves the investigating to the police, but is dismayed when her close friend Ross, Georgia's husband, becomes a suspect. What's more, the EPA disapproves of her cavalier handling of pesticides, and her younger sister is on the brink of alcoholism. Crosby illustrates the tension between Virginia old money tradition and the less prosperous newcomers to one of the nation's fastest growing areas. Some plot twists and romantic tension add body, developing into a smooth finish. The unusual setting and Crosby's able prose more than make up for a whiny heroine. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Making a go of the family's Virginia vineyard after her father's death (in The Merlot Murders, 2006) would be hard enough for amateur sleuth Lucie Montgomery, even without an occasional dead body turning up. First Georgia Greenwood, controversial aspiring politician and second wife of the local doctor, is found dead at the edge of the vineyard, disfigured by chemicals used on the vines; then the young man alleged to be her lover disappears. Lucie finds motives abounding among the locals as she seeks the truth, but she's also concerned about losing her brash but capable head winemaker, worried about her younger sister's binge drinking, and becoming involved with a rich Brit who wants to buy a vineyard. This second entry in Crosby's series is nicely plotted and paced until the too-abrupt ending, when a previously sensible if overinquisitive Lucie goes alone to confront the murderer. But what might otherwise be a pedestrian mystery stands out because of its Civil War–based local history and winemaking detail. A particular treat for oenophiles. Leber, Michele

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Product Details

  • Series: Wine Country Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743289927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743289924
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Crosby is the author of MULTIPLE EXPOSURE and GHOST IMAGE (Scribner, April, 2015) a mystery series featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. She has also written 6 books in the Virginia wine country mysteries featuring winemaker Lucie Montgomery, and MOSCOW NIGHTS, a standalone based loosely on her time as Moscow correspondent for ABC Radio News in the late 1980s. Before writing fiction, Crosby worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post and as an economist at the US Senate. Visit her website at and follow her on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks and on Twitter at @ellencrosby.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Huggins on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Wine Country Mystery series by Ellen Crosby is tops - and shows its worth with this second tale. Beginning with "The Merlot Murders," the author introduced a plot that suits a small-town setting, plus an insider's view of wine growing, served up with a witty dash of history. Yet, these are not cozies. Crosby's characters have flesh-and-blood qualities that whisper to our own foibles. In this second book, "The Chardonnay Charade," Lucie is struggling against a spring frost to keep her vineyard from freezing, when she discovers the lifeless body of a politician, well-laced with pesticide (there's a certain underlying symmetry here). On-the-job jealousies, a younger sister at flame-out age, and unraveling relationships contribute to Lucie's challenges in identifying the murderer. Crosby's writing is smooth and sure-handed as she develops characters and reveals each suspenseful step. All of which leads to a real-life mystery: When will we see the next book in this series? It's good stuff.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lenoremorr on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Once in a while I get an urge to read a mystery and this time Ellen Crosby's title caught my eye. I read it in one day, easily, and found it refreshing. Just enough detail to keep the story grounded without the boredom of too many technical details on vineyards, political campaigns, pesticides and other topics that would have bogged down any number of writers. Crosby deftly presented the story with a lovely set of characters and the action begins by the end of chapter one and keeps right on moving through the last chapter. I'll be searching out her other book and hope that she writes more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I finished this second installment in the series, I had the feeling I'd essentially just read the first book over again. The fact that I started it immediately after the first meant my memory was fresh, of course, but even the frankly really stupid things the heroine did in the first novel were repeated here. Imagine you figure out who killed a couple of people. Then, by all means, go to confront him, alone, where no one else is around, tell him that you know and are going to turn him in, and then be shocked--shocked!!!--when he actually announces that he will therefore kill you, too. Survive due to someone happening along. Imagine doing this twice in a row. It wasn't sensible (or plausible) the first time; it is really ridiculous the second time. I had the horrible suspicion, based on the similarities to the first book, that I knew who the killer was almost immediately, but I hoped I was wrong. I wasn't. Pity--I enjoyed the setting and learning trivia about wine making, but I can't picture myself continuing the series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The late seasonal frost endangers the vines in Lucie Montgomery's Virginia based winery. Lucie spends the night freezing as she and her crew tries to keep the vines from freezing. However, upon daylight, to her chagrin, Lucie finds the corpse of politician Georgia Greenwood.

The police investigate the murder with the victim's husband Ross as the prime (and only) suspect. Meanwhile since Georgia's body was contaminated by pesticide, EPA officials consider fining Lucie for misuse. She plans to stay out of the inquiry as she has enough to do with her winery, her alcoholic sister, and her jealous ire at her winemaker. An outraged Lucie decides to investigate the homicide as she does not trust the nouveau officialdom to seek the truth when she and Ross are convenient.

The latest A Wine Country Mystery (see THE MERLOT MURDERS) goes down smooth from start to finish due to Lucie's actions as she adapts from saving her vines to saving her friend and her reputation. The contrast between old money and the invading newcomers add regional depth to this fine tale. However, it is the cast from the bristly heroine to her winemaker to her sister to her friend and finally the cops who turn THE CHARDONNAY CHARADE into a palate pleasing tasty tale.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Falling into a genre somewhere between "beach read" and "cozy", The Chardonnay Charade is a pleasant little tome that will keep you entertained. While it does not have the complexity of great vintage, it does have the sparkling effervescence of a mid-priced champagne.

Lucie Montgomery, our vineyard owner who made her first appearance in The Merlot Murders, returns with yet another murder to solve, more threats to the survival of her winery, created by both Mother Nature, toxic chemicals, and the EPA, just to name a few, an ongoing "battle of the wits" with her estate winemaker, an alcoholic sister, and a new love interest and potential competitor who drops in from "across the pond".

This time the murder victim is an unpleasant political candidate who just happens to be the wife of the doctor responsible for saving Lucies life when she was involved in the automobile accident that left her with a disfigured foot. There are a variety of sub-plots and the twists and turns they take are engrossing. As for the characters, they are well draw and each possesses a very distinct voice. My favorite, and the one I can personally relate to, is Lucies friend Kit who is a rather boisterous individual with a zest for life, a hearty appetite and a philosophy that is pretty well summed up in four words "The diet starts tomorrow".

Lucies angst concerning her phycical disability was understandable in The Merlot Murders but began to wear a little thin by the end of this book. I certainly hope that by the time I read book three, The Bordeaux Betrayal, she will have left her personal pity party, accepted what is and moved on with her life.
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