Revealed: The Winemaker Detective and Winemaking

When you sip a glass of wine, how often do you think about the lives, tradition, craftsmanship,  and dumb luck involved in getting that beverage into your glass? Every year Mother Nature holds a new adventure for winemakers who, like goldsmiths, craft each harvest into a moment of pleasure captured in a glass.

The tough life of a writer of wine mysteries: Induction ceremony to become members of the Gaillac Wine Brotherhood of the Dive Bouteille.

The tough life of a writer of wine mysteries: Induction ceremony to become members of the Gaillac Wine Brotherhood of the Dive Bouteille.

Readers of the Winemaker Detective series discover much about winemaking as an art. Each book in the series is, in fact, a wine tasting. As you read, you take a sip, and then a second one, until you climb into the glass and become completely immersed in the drink, surrounded by the land where it was made, and the people who made it. 

Each book is written to honor winemakers and set in a place that is constantly changing. The world of Bordeaux is light years away from that of Burgundy. Who could possible put Alsatian wines in the same category as Loire Valley wines? This mystery series is an initiation, with stories we hope will stay with readers for a long time. 

Noël Balen, Jean-Pierre Alaux, and Anne Trager at the Lisle Noir crime fiction festival.

Noël Balen, Jean-Pierre Alaux, and Anne Trager at the Lisle Noir crime fiction festival.

Clearly, the authors Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen love wine. They love the France that is far from the beaten path, where people are struggling to make exceptional vintages, despite the blows dealt by fate, hail, or drought. We asked Jean-Pierre and Noël a couple of questions.

Where do you find your inspiration for the series as a whole?

Exploring the universe of wine is a little like taking a long journey. The more you taste, the more you go out and discover wine regions, the more there is to marvel at. Exploring the diversity of wines found in France is a humbling experience. We draw our inspiration from immersing ourselves in this world. With each novel, we visit a climate, a type of winemaker, and new natural environment. It’s an adventure, and we discovered that the world of wine has ways of doing things that are not always very orthodox. When we began the Winemaker Detective series, we had no idea how complex this world would be nor the failings we would find behind the scenes of the fine châteaux, which hide very human weaknesses.

Tell us something about the two characters central to this mystery series?

Before we even outlined Treachery in Bordeaux, the first whodunit in the series, we sketched the characters who would drive the plot. We began with Benjamin Cooker, a winemaker by profession, of British descent who had been living in the Médoc region in France for many years. He has an international reputation and his skills are recognized the world over. His sidekick Virgile went to winemaking school in Bordeaux. He has youth and a Cartesian mind, with a strong connection to his country roots. They are a tandem that combines two generations and two ways of approaching wine, working in a world where Mother Nature dictates fate and where traditions and myths still have a strong hold.

CLICK TO DISCOVER OR BUY THE WHOLE WINEMAKER DETECTIVE SERIES

CLICK TO DISCOVER OR BUY THE WHOLE WINEMAKER DETECTIVE SERIES

What's new — covers, audiobooks

New Series Covers

Check out our new covers for The 7th Woman and The Greenland Breach. Many thanks to Jeroen, our cover designer.

New Audiobooks

Audible also released a a couple of new audiobooks of recently: The Collector and Mayhem in Margaux. Click below to listen to excerpts.

What are you reading this summer?

What's your choice? Psychological suspense? Mysteries set in Paris? Cozy whodunits? Amateur sleuths? Freelance spies? Mossad agents? Esoteric thrillers?

Deals 

For summer beach reading, we are running a deal on three of the Winemaker Detective series ebooks. They will be marked down 25% through June 25.

http://amzn.to/1ITmGL5 [Deadly Tasting __title__ Deadly Tasting] (9781939474209) - A serial killer stalks Bordeaux. 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.

http://amzn.to/1ITmYBx [Cognac Conspiracies  __title__ Cognac Conspiracies](9781939474339) - The heirs to one of the oldest Cognac estates in France face a hostile takeover by foreign investors. Renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to audit the books. In what he thought was a sleepy provincial town, he and his assistant Virgile have their loyalties tested.

http://amzn.to/1QWRzwV [Mayhem in Margaux __title__ Mayhem in Margaux] (9781939474421) - Summer brings the Winemaker Detective's daughter to Bordeaux, along with a heatwave. Local vintners are on edge, But Benjamin Cooker is focused on solving a mystery that touches him very personally. Along the way he finds out more than he'd like to know about the makings of a grand cru classé wine.

Low prices on these titles will be available on all major ebook platforms through June 25.


The Winemaker Detective Guide to France on Shelf Pleasure

Gourmet sleuth in wine country.

If you want to follow the Winemaker Detective's footsteps in French wine country, check out this blog post at Shelf Pleasure. This is a great book lover's online destination. And the blog covers some highlights not to miss in France: Anne Trager, translator and founder of the publishing house Le French Book, pulled together a guide to some top spots to visit and tipple in France from the gourmet sleuth Winemaker Detective series­. As authors Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen say, “each book is a homage to a wine and a wine region,” and the rich details take readers there with or without a plane ticket.

New Release in Time for Summer Reading Season

What is on your summer reading list this year? We just added some potential mayhem and intrigue to it, with Mayhem in Margaux, a new adventure in the Winemaker Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen.

Reviewers concur that this is “a perfect beach book or why not in the evening on the terrace with a glass of wine.” The Winemaker Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen is a "lifestyle" mystery series made of classic wines, old winemaking families and their estates, genteel epicurean drinking and dining, fine cigars and, in this book a luxury vacation destination. Once again, this amateur detective/cozy mystery, translated by Boulder-based translator Sally Pane, whisks readers away to France for a gentle mystery, and a lot of atmosphere.

Want to catch up on the series? There's enough here to while away a few summer reading sessions, and to down a few bottles of wine - all with moderation of course.
Treachery in Bordeaux 
Grand Cru Heist 
Nightmare in Burgundy
Deadly Tasting
Cognac Conspiracies 

Summer in Bordeaux

Mayhem in Margaux Online Tour & Giveaway

Many thanks again to France Book Tours for our lated online blog tour for Mayhem In Margaux. Don't miss the giveaway opportunities, and please do visit these blogs.

Review + Giveaway at For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, May 7
Spotlight + Giveaway at Just One More Chapter

Friday, May 8
Review + Giveaway at It’s a Mad Mad World

Saturday, May 9
Spotlight + Giveaway at Book Nerd

Sunday, May 10
Spotlight + Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse

Monday, May 11
Review + Guest-Post + Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Thursday, May 14
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

Friday, May 15
Review + Giveaway at Unshelfish
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Libri Amori Miei

Mystery, Subterfuge And Places I Must See Before I Die

The Winemaker Detective series has become an “obsession” for some readers, with its excursions into French wine country, its gourmet attitude, and its cozy mysteries. Here translator Sally Pane shares some details about her experience translating the latest one in the series: Mayhem in Margaux, which comes out this month.

Each new book in the Winemaker Detective Series gives us a glimpse into another part of France, and Mayhem in Margaux also shows us another side of the Winemaker Detective himself; this time he’s a Dad. The appearance of his daughter, fittingly named Margaux, complicates the relationships between all of the main characters, in fact. Cooker has a personal stake in solving this disturbing mystery, and even his exchanges with the colorful police inspector Barbaroux are touching and entertaining.

The plot of this mystery, inspired by a real heat wave in Europe (which occurred in 2003), links the past to the contemporary. There were fourteen thousand deaths associated with that heat wave, and as we are reminded in the story, it happened in the month of August when many government officials and physicians are on vacation. But even though Cooker and Virgile have the luxury of staying in Cap Ferret, they still have to go tromping through the vineyards under the unrelenting sun and unbearable heat. While they enjoy wine-soaked dinners of fresh fish and oysters on their patio overlooking the Arcachon Bay, the topic returns to worries of global warming… and subterfuge.

Besides the mystery itself, one of my favorite parts in the book is the excursion that Cooker and his daughter make to the Cordouan lighthouse. About four and a half miles from shore, it is the tenth tallest traditional lighthouse in the world and the oldest in France. It seems the perfect setting for this annual father-daughter retreat, and once again I find myself adding this historic monument to my list of places I must see before I die, even though I’ll probably never be able to afford a bottle of Château Margaux.

May Book Giveaways

This month, you can enter to win Mayhem in Margaux at France Book Tours, and you can also participate in the following Goodreads book giveaways—we've got four of them going. There's something for everyone: a Freemason thriller with esoteric secrets and international intrigue, a historic conspiracy roller-coaster ride of a novel, and two gourmet sleuth Winemaker Detective novels, including an advance review copy of the next one in the series.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti

Shadow Ritual

by Eric Giacometti

Giveaway ends May 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Morgenstern Project by David S. Khara

The Morgenstern Project

by David S. Khara

Giveaway ends May 22, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mayhem in Margaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Mayhem in Margaux

by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Giveaway ends May 16, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Flambé in Armagnac

by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Giveaway ends May 25, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win



Translator Sally Pane Interviewed in Big Thrill

Sally Pane has translated a number of the Winemaker Detective novels. She was interviewed in Big Thrill Magazine this month.  She talks about the series and the new release: Mayhem in Margaux. Here are the questions she answers.

  • It doesn’t seem necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one but could you give us some background on the earlier books?
  • A special charm of the series is the portrayal of quotidian life outside of Paris—in southwestern France—and the insider look at winemaking. In MAYHEM there are enjoyable digressions on summering at a rental villa in Cap Ferrat, the beautiful stones of the Medoc, and corks versus screw tops as well as a touching scene of Benjamin with his daughter visiting from New York. Do each of the books also touch on some current social issue such as gentrification or illegal immigrants?
  • The series is written by a duo of experienced authors, one a wine lover and one a music expert. Could you tell us something more about them? Do you know anything about their collaborative process? How involved are they in the translation into English?
  • There is a successful French TV series based on the books. Is “Blood on the Vine” available in the United States?
  • The publisher, Le French Book, is a relatively new venture, and Penguin is currently publishing new translations of the Inspector Maigret books by Simenon. Do you think there is more receptivity now in the Anglophone world to translated mysteries? Do you have any theories about the boom in translation of Nordic mysteries?
  • This series seems lighter in tone than earlier French mysteries translated into English. Have you observed any major differences between French and American/British mysteries or was the earlier choice of darker and more psychologically based books to translate a matter of chance?
  • You’ve been translating for more than twenty years. Have you seen any changes over that time period? Has the advent of e-books helped increase the visibility of translated books or, on the other hand, made it more difficult to be noticed among the flood of new titles and decrease in print reviews?
  • You have done scientific, legal, and literary translations. What do you find to be the particular challenges and pleasures of translating popular fiction like this series?
  • What do you personally enjoy the most about the Winemaker Detective series?

 

April mystery and thriller #giveaways

This month, we're running three Goodreads giveaways. Check them out, enter to win, tell the world, post a review... :-)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Morgenstern Project by David S. Khara

The Morgenstern Project

by David S. Khara

Giveaway ends April 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti

Shadow Ritual

by Eric Giacometti

Giveaway ends April 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mayhem in Margaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Mayhem in Margaux

by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Giveaway ends April 25, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win