Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mystery review: Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes

chef maurice wrath grape large banner640

Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes
(Chef Maurice Culinary Mysteries Book 2)

Cozy Mystery (English Village, Culinary)
File Size: 489 KB
Print Length: 168 pages
Publisher: Purple Panda Press (July 13, 2015)

Publisher's Synopsis:
An invitation to dinner at the home of renowned wine collector Sir William Burton-Trent soon finds Chef Maurice in the middle of an all-too-real murder mystery party, when Sir William is found dead in his own wine cellar.

The guests are acting all innocent, but which one is only playing the part? The pushy Californian film director? The seductive French winemaker?

Or could it be, against all narrative decency, the butler who did it?

With the help of food critic friend Arthur Wordington-Smythe, a large kipper sandwich, and the newly formed Cochon Rouge Wine Appreciation Society, Chef Maurice must get to the bottom of matters before events turn decidedly sour…

As you can see, this review is part of a book tour. That means I got the book for free, but the review opinions remain my own.
My Review:
Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes, in addition to making a nice literary jest in the title, was an engaging read. I found the characters well-written, though I admit to liking the minor characters (Patrick, Alf, and Lucy) best. Maurice himself is a bit over the top, and Arthur is enigmatic. Every character has flaws and virtues, and even those that seem to be types prove themselves to be a bit deeper.

I might have liked the murder victim a bit too much for comfort, but the author did manage to bring off the killing before I became too attached. The murder (victim, scene and all) is well within the bounds of the cozy mystery. The killer is maybe a bit too easy to pick out, (I guess this could be a spoiler, so jump to the next paragraph if you are worried) as the least likeable character (in my opinion. There may be room for debate). Though on reflection, quite a few of the possible suspects are a bit on the unlikeable side.

The plot/mystery is moderately complex, with some aspects fairly opaque to those (like me) not at all into wine, though the oenophilic elements are presented well. Though I suspected who and even how (in a general sense) from early on, it was beyond me to work out why or the details.

Finally, there is a nice touch of slightly comic romance worked into the subplot with the minor characters, complete with it's own minor mystery. All elements came together well, to make for a book I zipped through with pleasure, though it doesn't have a lot of substance. Although I did spot a few minor editing/proofing issues, I had a pre-publication copy, so I will trust they get picked up in the final proofing.

A nice addition to the British-country-house cozy genre, of the light variety (what around my house we call "brain candy," and that's no insult!) (it occurs to me that should be a wine pun, except I don't know wines well enough to make the joke). If that's your thing, go for it! Bonus if you are exceedingly fond of good food and wine.

Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes as part of a blog tour, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About The Author
J.A. Lang is a British mystery writer, and author of the Chef Maurice Mysteries series.
She lives in Oxford, England, with her husband, an excessive number of cookbooks, and a sourdough starter named Bob.
Author Links
J.A. Lang’s Website
J.A. Lang on Goodreads
J.A. Lang on Facebook


Don't just take my word for it--check out some of the other reviewers on this tour!

July 14 – Book Splurge – Review
July 15 – The Ninja Librarian – Review
July 16 – readalot – Review
July 17 – Shelley’s Book Case– Review
July 18 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too ! – Spotlight
July 19 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – Spotlight
July 20 – Carole’s Book Corner – Review
July 21 – MysteriesEtc – Review
July 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review
July 23 – Frankie Bow – Spotlight
July 24 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Review
July 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – Spotlight


  1. Probably not too Soave for me, then :) I think I'd like to try this.

    1. I think you'd like it. I did, even though I've worked very hard at not learning anything about good wine (a taste for expensive chocolate and high-quality socially and environmentally sound coffee is about all the budget can handle :D ).


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