Book Review: Murder in the Vineyard by Denise Jaden

book review murder in the vineyard denise jaden
murder at the vineyard denise jaden

Title: Murder in the Vineyard (Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper #4)

Author: Denise Jaden

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: February 18, 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

One Sentence Summary: When Mallory joins Alex for a bible study at a vineyard, the last thing she expects is to find another dead body.

Overall

Murder in the Vineyard is the fourth book in the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series and does not disappoint. If anything, it’s great for cat lovers as Hunch gets a bigger role, and there’s a bit more danger than expected. While I wish there had been more of Mallory and Alex, I do really love the way Mallory, Amber, and Hunch worked together in this one. They’re a lot of fun and work really well together. The mystery is twisty and fast-paced and I really enjoyed how I didn’t figure things out before Mallory, Amber, and Hunch. The ending had me on the edge of my figurative seat. Overall, a really solid installment in the series that was just as much fun as the previous books and, as always, was an extremely pleasurably smooth reading experience.

Extended Thoughts

A vineyard seems like a strange place to hold a bible study, but Mallory goes with Alex anyways. As expected, not everyone is thrilled about the location, and the evening ends prematurely after a confrontation with a member of the group who is also a spokesperson for MADD, who winds up dead.

With her trusty sidekicks, teenage Amber and cat Hunch, Mallory sniffs around when Alex is essentially pulled from the case. Things get twisty quickly, but it might all be traced back to the past of the victim, and Mallory, Amber, and Hunch will do everything in their power to protect innocent lives.

Murder in the Vineyard is the fourth in the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series, and is just as fun and fast-paced as the first three. While I keep wishing for more of Mallory and Alex, I adore the trio of Mallory, Amber, and Hunch, and I was so happy to see Hunch with a bigger role in this installment. The mystery is just as much fun, the pace is just as fast, and the relationships between the characters are all wonderful. With the smallest hint of romance, this book really has everything I love about the series, with a bit more danger than the previous books.

I went into this one hoping for more of Mallory and her crush Alex, a detective on the local police force whose boss has it in for him. The romance between them is molasses slow, but, since Mallory is a recent widow, it’s understandable and still really enjoyable. But Mallory, Amber, and Hunch work so well together that, by the end, I was really glad with the way the story went.

Amber reminds me of a younger Nancy Drew with how whip smart and gutsy she is and Hunch must be a genius cat or something. But, without Mallory to round things out, they’d definitely be missing something. I love the way they bounce off of each other and work together to piece things together. I love how insistent Hunch is, and he really had some moments to shine in this book. He almost seems human sometimes, but still manages to shine as a feline. I love how the three of them can easily take the lead and lean on each other, and I really felt Mallory was starting to come into her own a little more since Amber always seemed to drive the solving the mystery part a little more than Mallory.

Just like the previous mysteries, Murder in the Vineyard presents a fast-paced, twisty mystery with plenty of red herrings. Everything about it was extremely smoothly done and I liked that I didn’t easily guess who did it, instead figuring it out with the characters. There was more at play and I really liked how it pulled in the history of the victim more than previous books have. I also really liked how there was a bit more danger in this one, especially at the end. It had me on the edge of my figurative seat and completely pulled me in.

One of my favorite things about this series is how each books widens the setting a little more. Some of them focus a little closer to home and some of them offer locations a bit further afield. This one did both, and even brought in a location well away from Honeysuckle Grove, one that might have future implications for Mallory and Alex. I really like how Honeysuckle Grove manages to feel both small and a bit larger. It’s always a huge pleasure to travel around with Mallory, Amber, and Hunch, and doing so with this book was no exception.

Murder in the Vineyard is a wonderful installment in the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series with everything I love about the series, and then some. Each book seems to offer a little more, keeping me hooked. But the characters can also truly hold their own. As much as I wish for more of Mallory and Alex, I really love when Mallory is working with Amber and Hunch. They’re a unique trio and are just so much fun to read. Overall, another fun and captivating cozy mystery, and I’m really glad Hunch got a bigger role in this one.

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups

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Thank you to Denise Jaden for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my reviews of books from the Big 5 and self-published, indie, and small press books.

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