I first “met” Janet Hubbard when I was interning at Bay Area literary agency Kimberley Cameron & Associates. I think it was about that time that she’d just published her first novel, Champagne: The Farewell, and was working towards completing this book, Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish. Though it was my job to promote her work all around social media, I never actually had the pleasure of reading any of her writing. Now, 5 years later, I’ve reconnected with Ms. Hubbard through my website and have had the pleasure of reading her second novel and (stay-tuned) a sneak-peek at her third.
NOTE: This is the second book in Hubbard’s Vengeance in the Vineyard series. While I did not read Champagne: The Farewell, Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish does an excellent job capturing the main events of its prequel and it is not necessary to read the first novel to understand the second.
About the Book: Max (Maxine) Maguire an NYPD detective, due to some inter-departmental drama, has been assigned as private security detail to esteemed wine critic Ellen Jordan. Because of her harsh scoring, the rise and fall of certain vintners’ ratings, and a scandalous rumor that her judging may be influenced by a secret love affair, Ms. Jordan receives a death threat during her travels to Bordeaux, where she’s scheduled to reveal her latest scores.
It’s no spoiler alert that within 24-hours Ms. Jordan is found dead in her hotel room, poisoned by — what else? — a gourmet French blue cheese. But who would do such a thing? Is it the vintner whose rating has plummeted? Is it the wine collector who she once accused of showcasing a “faux-Bordeaux?” Is it her ex-lover or his wife? There seems to be an innumerable amount of suspects that Max and her team must sift through, while Max herself sorts out her personal, professional, and romantic dramas as well.
What You’ll Learn: Everything about the inner workings of the wine business — including counterfeiting and how far some collectors will go to make a profit from their investments. You’ll read about the hierarchy of positions within a winery and how those inter-workings affect the wines, sales, and a brand’s mainstream popularity. And of course you’ll continue the great debate about how important — or not — a critic’s opinion and numerical score is in the world of wine.
It’s also worth mentioning that Hubbard includes a lot of French phrases, but does an excellent job incorporating them into the narrative seamlessly. Even non-francophiles will be able to follow along just perfectly and be able to learn a few words along the way.
Another important note is that non-oenophiles will be able to enjoy Hubbard’s work just as much as the avid wine-enthusiast. At its core, Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish is a rollercoaster of a murder mystery.
Wine Pairing: I know what you’re thinking. Bordeaux, right? I will admit, reading a book with a French back-drop — especially the scenes where Max is sipping on some of the regions finest — did, in fact, make me crave a French, or French-inspired wine. And there’s no doubt that’s the perfect pairing. But given the theme of the book, I’d also recommend drinking a super laid-back, casual wine (from any region), that tastes like a million bucks. And then question the importance of price versus value — and laugh at the blokes trying to create counterfeit wine.
More Info: I received Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish as a gift. (Cheers, Janet!) You can purchase a copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indie Bound. (Retail: about $15). For more information about Janet Hubbard, the Vengance in the Vine series, and to contact the author directly, please visit Janet Hubbard’s personal website.
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