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The Winemaker Detective series

Wine plus crime in French vineyards

Immerse yourself in French countryside and gourmet attitude with two amateur sleuths gumshoeing around French wine country.   The Winemaker Detective series delves into the underworld of a global luxury industry, where there’s money, deceit, death, crime, inheritance, jealousy—all the ingredients needed to distill a fine detective series! That and a decent dose of Epicurean enjoyment of fine food and beverage. It follows master winemaker Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile Lanssien in their adventures solving mysteries in vineyards throughout France and beyond. Each book is a homage to wine and winemakers.

Treachery in Bordeaux Barrels at the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion wine estate in Bordeaux have been contaminated. Is it negligence or sabotage? Cooker and his assistant Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, giving readers and inside view of this famous wine region.

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Print book release date: May 29, 2014

Grand Cru Heist In another Epicurean journey in France, renowned wine critic Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down one night in Paris. He retreats to the region around Tours to recover. There a flamboyant British dandy, a spectacular blue-eyed blond, a zealous concierge and touchy local police disturb his well-deserved rest. From the Loire Valley to Bordeaux, in between a glass of Vouvray and a bottle of Saint-Émilion, the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and very particular heist. Who stole those bottles of grand cru classé?

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Book 3: Nightmare in Burgundy

Nightmare in Burgundy The Winemaker Detective leaves his native Bordeaux for a dream wine tasting trip to Burgundy, France’s other key wine-making region. Between Beaune, Dijon and Nuits-Saint-Georges, his stay it turns into a troubling nightmare when he stumbles upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era. What do they mean? What dark secrets from the deep past are haunting the Clos de Vougeot? Does blood need to be shed to sharpen people’s memory?

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Buy Nightmare in Burgundy for your KindleBuy Nightmare in Burgundy from Barnes&Nobles or for your NookBuy Nightmare for your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch  Buy Nightmare in Burgundy for your Kobo

Book 4: Deadly Tasting

In a new Winemaker Detective adventure, a serial killer stalks Bordeaux, signing his crimes with a strange ritual. To understand the wine-related symbolism, the local police call on the famous wine critic Benjamin Cooker. The investigation leads them to the dark hours of France’s history, as the mystery thickens among the once-peaceful vineyards of Pomerol.

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Ebook release date: Summer 2014

Print book release date: October 2014

Made for TV

The series is being adapted to television in France and is a huge success in France, Belgium and Switzerland. Four episodes have currently been on the air. YouTube Preview Image

The authors

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, wine lover and music lover respectively, came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series over a meal, accompanied by more than a few glasses of wine, of course.

The main character

Treachery in Bordeaux establishes the characters for the series. The protagonist, Benjamin Cooker, is in his fifties, at the top of his career and has a distinguished English gentleman veneer. His sidekick, Virgile, is the young, handsome, sexy one representing the younger generation. Benjamin is the winemaker par excellence, whose vocation is to help wine estates around France and elsewhere to make great wines. On French television, the part is played by French actor Pierre Arditi, who loves adapting this series because the character’s sensibilities, culture and personality help him solve the cases. A winemaker’s analytical ability, based on sensory perception and details, is not so far from that of a police inspector. Cooker is an iconoclast, unforeseeable, stubborn, guided by his instincts, feelings and his memory of aromas and savors.


“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 of Back Bay and The Lincoln Letter

“An excellent mystery series where 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

“A series that is both delectable for connoisseurs of wine and an initiation for those not in the know.”

—Marine de Tilly, Le Figaro

“An original perspective on the world of wine that makes your mouth water.”


“A series you can read with great pleasure.”


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