Foul Play in Vouvray... Meet the main characters

What is lurking in the vines… a fun mystery set in France.

Foul Play in Vouvray was such fun to adapt. There are some real gems in the story. Lovers of the series will recognize the characters and see them grow. Newbies will get a taste of France and learn some things along the way as they discover these likable heroes and follow their adventures in this foreign land. Here are some excerpts to meet the main characters.

Dashing, confident Virgile outside his comfort zone

“You don’t think we look like country bumpkins, boss?” Virgile asked, adjusting the collar of his fitted jacket. He had slipped it on over a light cashmere sweater, perfect for the unreliable spring weather. 

Benjamin gave his assistant a once-over.The winemaker preferred more classic clothes for himself, but Virgile was no slouch when it came to attire. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why are you fretting, Virgile?” 

“I don’t know. I have the feeling we smell like hay.” 

Benjamin chuckled. “We’re from Bordeaux, son. How could we possibly smell like hay? And even if we did, what would be so wrong with that? We’re also men of the vine. ‘In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.’” 

“Is that a quote, boss?”

“Yes: Margaret Atwood.”

“It’s just that I’m not in the habit of hanging out with movers and shakers from Paris.”

Benjamin, as usual, at home everywhere there is wine

A sizable vineyard maintained like an English garden surrounded the château. There was no trace of a pretentious lawn, stylized bushes, or flowerbeds. Here the vineyards reigned. Rows of vines stretched as far as the eye could see, floating on the horizon of the Vouvray plateau. 

The winemaker found himself caught up in an animated crowd of heavy-hitters and wannabes. He elbowed his way through the horde in front of a copious buffet, where the estate wine was flowing like water. 

Virgile thrown off balance again

Virgile froze. There was something familiar about the voice: slightly fluted, both soft and husky. He glanced over his shoulder and was petrified. He had seen her in magazine and television images—languishing on a yacht in the Bay of Antibes, climbing the palace stairs at Cannes, displaying her duplex near the wealthy Parisian Trocadéro neighborhood, holding up a César, a tear of joy clinging to her eyelashes, laughing at a private party in Bains-Douches. Simone Margerolle was a fantasy woman who existed in a vague, distant place. And there she was, in flesh and blood. More in the flesh, as it were: curvaceous breasts beneath the shimmering silk fabric of her plum-colored sheath, voluptuous hips, and tiny waist. 

Virgile forced himself to focus on her intense blue eyes. 

“Shush! Don’t say a word,” she said, putting a finger on his lips. 

Virgile picked up the scent of pears. She’d dipped her finger in Champagne. He had no choice but to comply. He was tongue-tied. 

The wine region at the heart of the story

“I’m sure you know that for centuries the Loire Valley has been the stamping ground for royals, writers such as Honoré de Balzac and François Rabelais, and more than a few celebrities, David Navarre included. It’s known as France’s garden. The list of famous châteaus is endless: Chenonceau, Chambord, Amboise, Cheverny, Blois, Langeais...” 

“It’s strange, boss—with all of the region’s fancy châteaus and showy history, they hide a lot of their vineyards, kind of like a secret lover.” 

Benjamin chuckled. “There’s no secret. It’s all in the geography, son. Here in Vouvray country, the vineyard is often out of sight. But you feel its proximity. I think of it this way: behind the high cliffs pierced with troglodyte caves and beyond the slate roofs, you sense the presence of an army of vines standing guard in rows, ready to confront the assault of rain and biting sun.”