Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review: Late Harvest Havoc by by Jean-Pierre Alauxand Noël Balen, trans by Sally Pane

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Le French Book, via Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it


late harvest havoc


Synopsis:

Disaster strikes the vineyards in Alsace. Vintners are tense and old grudges surface. The Winemaker Detective's reputation is on the line as he must find the cause before the late harvest starts. 

Winter is in the air in Alsace and local customs are sowing trouble, piquing the curiosity of the famous winemaker from Bordeaux, Benjamin Cooker. While the wine expert and his assistant Virgile settle into their hotel in the old city of Colmar, distinguished vineyards are attacked. Is it revenge? The plot thickens when estates with no apparent connection to one another suffer the same sabotage just days prior to the late harvest. All of Alsace is in turmoil, plunged in the grip of suspicion that traces its roots back to the darkest hours of the German occupation. As he crosses back and forth into Germany from the Alsace he thought he knew so well, Cooker discovers a land of superstition, rivalry, and jealousy. Between tastings of the celebrated wines, he is drawn into the lives and intrigues of the inhabitants. 


Review:

Stepping into one of the Winemaker Detective books is like slipping into your favorite armchair. Much like I did as a child with an Agatha Christie novel, you want to settle in, transport yourself to the grape fields of France (in this case Alsace), and immerse yourself in Benjamin and Virgile's wine travails. It always seem such a rude awakening coming out of the books and back to real life. Sigh...

This is book 10 in the series (!!) and once again there is a mystery that seems to have no answer, yet whose resolution comes so naturally and easily, that the reader almost forgets there is actually a mystery to be solved, as Benjamin and Virgile educate the reader on the wines of Alsace and the history of the region. Having read the series so far, I truly feel like I finally understand France better as a country of very varied area, much like our own. The history of the regions not only affect the grapes, but the legends, family rivalries and food of the region. If you never really thought of seeing France beyond Paris and Versailles, this series will change your mind!

This is one of the quicker books to read in the series, but not one to miss! It is another enjoyable trip to France, when  old man Winter is a biting (or roasting us here in Louisiana)!



About the Authors:

Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and TV journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. 


Noël Balen lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing. 


About the Translator:

Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado.Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at Colorado University Boulder.  She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation.  She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena.  She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband. This is her first translation for Le French Book!




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