In the heart of Gascony, a fire ravages the warehouse of one of Armagnac s top estates, killing the master distiller. Wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to estimate the value of the losses. But Cooker and his assistant Virgile want to know more. Did the old alembic explode? Was it really an accident? Why is the estate owner Baron de Castayrac penniless? How legal are his dealings?
Another scrumptious mystery stumbled upon by Cooker and Virgile. Not only are we charmed by warm hospitality, delicious descriptions of food and drink, we also enjoy trivia, along with Cooker’s gift of reciting quotes and rugby. As usual Alaux and Balen weave variety into a seamless mystery.
Virgile gains a new friend, in the form of a male, unusual for this charismatic ladies man never short of female admirers. We see Virgile’s emotional and sensitive side over his concern for his new friend and as he bears difficult news to the lawbreaker. A nice change of pace all around. Cooker is his usual self, thinking of Elisabeth while separated, indulging in food and grog with fervor. Their sleuth solving was a cinch since the culprit admits to his crime.
My favorite aspect of the series is how we are introduced to the mystery. Each installment offers a variety of ways the mystery takes place and when the dynamic duo starts gathering tools and solving. Never slavish, much appreciated.
With all the pleasant distractions in combination with a scandalous family’s doings another intriguing mystery enjoyed. Once again the creativity of Alaux and Balen demonstrating their exceeding talents in this delightful mystery series.