I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Blood Vines by Erica Spindler.
Some writers look around and see the drama in relationships between strangers you know that’s what everyone with a laptop at the coffee shop is doing easvesdropping and looking at gossip sites. Okay, maybe not just writers. Anyway, some writers look for love gone wrong, some dream about the far flung future, some plot crimes and capers. Not Erica Spindler. She just wants to kill you. She may look like a perfectly normal attractive woman but don’t be deceived. Where you see a cup of coffee and a scone, she’s already disposed of a murder weapon. She’s like the MacGuyver of crime fiction. And her many years of writing romance novels gives her the advantage of creating characters that you fall in love with before their untimely departure. Her training as a visual artist just makes it that much more…vivid.
So when Spindler spent some time in Sonoma, while another writer might have had a couple glasses of cabernet and called it a day, she was seduced by the many, many (many) ways you can dispatch someone in the process of making wine. I once gave myself a black eye with a corkscrew (don’t judge) and I felt like I spat in the face of wine-related mortality, but after reading Blood Vines I now know about dropping dead from CO2 asphyxiation while cleaning the tanks, and that Red Rooster makes the best, sharpest little harvesting knives. Danger is everywhere, even in my beloved old vine Pinot Noir!
We meet Alexandra Owens (or as Spindler refers to her, “Poor Alexandra”), a nice girl with a crazy mother and a really big hole in her memory. The story takes her to Sonoma, and she starts to fill in the missing pieces of her childhood and meeting lots of people who are in various stages of really wishing she’d stayed a part of the distant past. There are some particularly grisly murders, hints and rumors of a wine-drinking Bacchanalian cult (what else is there to do?) and as the bodies pile up, Poor Alexandra begins to wonder if there are some things better left unremembered.Ê As much wine as these folks drink throughout this book, it’s really no wonder they can’t remember who did what to whom.
Erica Spindler keeps a firm hand on the action and had me guessing wrongly about the identity of the villain even as I thought longingly about a trip to this beautiful place. A glass of Seghesio 2008 Home Ranch Zinfandel might help to ease the pain.