Book Review: Red-Handed in Romanée-Conti by Jean-Pierre Alaux; Noël Balen, Trans by Sally Pane

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge, from le French Book, via Netgalley, 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

The “addictive” Winemaker Detective mystery series returns to Burgundy, France, where wine connoisseurs and amateur sleuths Benjamin Cooker and Virgile Lanssien sniff out wrongdoers during a hazardous harvest.
Red-handed in Romanée-Conti cover


The perfect wine, the perfect harvest... and the perfect murder?

When world-renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker’s elderly father needs him most, the erudite consultant and his dashing assistant Virgile Lanssien are called away to Burgundy to orchestrate the harvest. More than just picking grapes, the Winemaker Detective must keep a delicate balance between an old-time vintner and his heir as a catastrophic hailstorm endangers some of France’s most celebrated wines. Adding insult to injury, the brutal and mysterious murder of a grape picker sends shock waves through the winemaking world and the small-town gendarmes find evidence incriminating Cooker. He and his trusty assistant put their sharp senses to work detecting clues and subtleties in the tight-knit community to find where the real killer is lurking.

In another satisfying wine novel with a French flair, authors Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen give readers a perfectly intoxicating combination French wine, gourmet meals, and mystery in the gloriously described Burgundy wine region with all the scenery, scents, and sounds of France. This light, fun mystery combines amateur sleuths, food, and wine in a wonderfully French mystery novel that doubles as a travel guide. It is a new kind read on the international mystery and crime scene: a pitch-perfect, wine-infused, French-style cozy mystery.


Once again Jean-Pierre and Noel give us a tale that immediately grabs all your senses, and never lets go. From the descriptions of the countryside, to the descriptions of the wine, and food, and the unique characters of Burgundy, you feel like you are in France and the story is revolving around you, as you watch on. From the dark corners of the abandoned abbey, to the belts where the grapes are being picked over, to the field with damaged grape vines, you know that things are not what they seem, And as Benjamin and Virgile do their job for the winery, they discover the lies obscuring many truths. Including the one that led to murder. This is another fun read, that I couldn't put down until I finished it! Every time I finish one of the winemaker series books, I feel like I have traveled to France and received an impromptu wine course! Once again my knowledge of wine has been increased, and I have another region to put on my bucket list of places to see! If you need an escape before the holidays hit, be sure to pick up this book and more from the series!

About the Authors:

Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover, and won the Antonin Carême prize for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou. 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.Website:

Coauthor of the Winemaker Detective series, 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. Website:

About the Translators:

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!


  1. Thanks so much for this review. I love that you had the same experience reading it as we did translating and publishing it. Readers who want to know more about the authors in English can go here: . Enjoy.

  2. Thanks so much for le French Book- reading in French has never been my strong point! LOL. And thanks for stopping in!


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