“In 'Deadly Tasting' Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen offer a fourth detection for wine expert Benjamin Cooker and his earnest young associate, Virgile. Sally Pane handles the translation from French to English and her rendering is 'cosy' and accessible and vivid. The series is developing nicely--plots are reliably in the 'cosy' murder genre (though the deaths can leave gruesome bodies) because the protagonists work together like Holmes and Watson or Poireau and Hastings and the detection is interwoven with wonderful bits of local French colour, wine lore and the heady scent of cigar smoke and of a life well-lived.
In this outing, France is experiencing a final chance to bring World War II collaborators with the Nazis to justice. One knows this has been a troublesome process for the French and I have seen how the history has been rewritten a bit over time to give more prominence to the Resistance and less to outside Liberators. Keep in mind that the authors here are truly French and that they are also cultivated persons. They celebrate a tradition of connoisseurship that ranges from food to philosophy to tobacco products to art and, in this case, to a French interest in American modern jazz music. Thirty-some years ago, when I began to visit France and its various regions, I was struck by how much of this music was available in decent restaurants and music shops. Part of the fundamental 'Truth' about France is that the nation has a tradition of being cosmopolitan. This series celebrates just this aspect of life, with a particular emphasis on life in Bordeaux.
I have read every book in this series so far. Spacing the out, each one becomes a treat for the reader who is not put off by what only appears to be the exclusivity of the cultural references. The authors are honestly inviting us to 'kick our game up a notch' and to enter a realm of the sensory that we may not have encountered. This, in part, is fiction as wish fulfilment. I have been lucky enough to go a good way down this sort of road in France and can attest to the genuineness of what the authors offer. In part this is true tourism in France and in part it is true murder mystery fiction. Lovers of either or of both these subjects will be well-served if they purchase this book.” —James Ellsworth, Netgalley review