Author Kate Lansing’s Killer Chardonnay is the first book in the Colorado Wine Mystery series, the start to a charming cozy mystery series that features amateur sleuth and new wine shop owner Parker Valentine. It has been Parker’s dream to open her own wine shop one day and when her beloved aunt passes away and leaves Parker with a sizeable inheritance, it seems like the right time to chase her dream. With opening night planned and all the local VIPs invited to attend, Parker is ready to launch Vino Valentine. On opening night, Parker gets the surprise of her life when local celebrity and renowned food and wine critic Gaskel Brown takes a seat at the bar and orders a flight of Parker’s signature wines. Parker knows Gaskel’s reviews can set the course for the success or failure of Vino Valentine based on his opinion.
Parker isn’t having much luck winning over Gaskel with her wine selection. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself and she is convinced a bad review is just around the corner. He focuses on one of the wines that she is the proudest of – her signature chardonnay – and by the look on his face he is less than impressed. Abruptly, Gaskel gets up and beelines for the bathroom, and in her desperation, Parker “accidentally” sees the notebook of his initial thoughts. She is taken aback when she learns his initial impression is not positive. In a daze from reading his words, Parker realizes that Gaskel has not returned to finish his glass. She knocks on the door of the bathroom to check on him and when there is no answer, she discovers Gaskel dead in the bathroom of Vino Valentine.
Authorities are convinced that Gaskel has been poisoned and the poison was lurking in Parker’s chardonnay. To complicate things, Parker admits that she snooped in his notebook and he was about to give her establishment a less than stellar review, which doesn’t endear her to the investigating officer.
Word spreads quickly that it was Parker’s wine that killed him and she is desperate to save her business and lift the blame from Vino Valentine. She, along with her group of friends, take matters into their own hands and conduct their own amateur investigation. Their investigation takes an even darker turn when another guest from the opening night festivities dies under mysterious circumstances. In her investigation, Parker discovers that Gaskel’s writings have left many people destitute and broke after his scathing reviews caused their businesses to fail. Could the culprit be a ruined business owner seeking revenge? If so, how did the poison end up in Parker’s chardonnay? Readers will be on the edge of their seats trying to get to the bottom of the case.
Over the last few years the amount of cozy mysteries published has grown by leaps and bounds and there seems to be a theme or niche for nearly everyone, no matter your interest. Killer Chardonnay stands out in a large field of new cozy mystery launches. The characters are very engaging and the mystery will keep you guessing – especially how the poison got into the chardonnay. Kate Lansing has four books (so far) in the Colorado Wine Mystery series with the most recent being published in the spring of 2023.