BOOK REVIEW: A Taste for Death, a flawed mystery set in the Finger Lakes

Stevens, Don - A Taste for DeathMy husband, George, is a winemaker in the Finger Lakes region, at a winery on the east side of Seneca Lake, across the lake from where this book takes place. Reading a book about our area and about the industry in which my husband works appealed to me, and it was fun to see the local small towns mentioned. While not everything about the wine industry was accurate, it does show readers a little of what goes on before the wine is poured into a glass. (Though, knowing what it takes to become a winemaker, I do quibble with the fact that there are so many inexperienced winemakers in the novel.)

In A Taste for Death, Gerard Bellamont, a prominent wine critic is murdered with a trellis wire; his body is found in the vineyard of a newly opened winery. Inspector Louis Deville of the Violent Crimes Investigative Team is assigned as lead on the case. Deville came to the United States from France with a so far incurable case of amnesia due to alcohol poisoning and can’t partake of the wine that is so ubiquitous in the region, though perhaps that gives him a clear head to untangle the vined motives and relationships around Gerard since he was even better at offending people than he was writing, and he left a long trail of enemies.

Though the setting is enjoyable, otherwise, the book is a bit of a mess and would have benefited from a strong editor. There are several typos (though this may be limited to the Kindle edition) and incorrect word usage. More seriously, the text contains grammatical and stylistic errors and is littered with cliches. Additionally, the writing can be amateurish as well as confusing and unclear. At times, it read as a poor translation into English. Furthermore, the narrative is inconsistent, especially when it comes to character traits. Characters are confident then falling apart on the turn on dime; characters are imbeciles but are hardworking and good at what they do. Sadly, I must recommend skipping this book.

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