Who exactly is the last heir to Napa Valley’s Chateau Giroux?
Even though his son Phil survived an avalanche several months ago, Philippe Giroux is left with several problems. One is that his son Alain didn’t. A second is that the family winery, Chateau Giroux, is slated to pass from the hands of Philippe, as trustee, to that of his surviving male heirs when Phil turns 40 in a few months. Another is Philippe’s certainty that Phil, under the baneful influence of his wife, Lourdes, plans to sell the winery to developer Andy Clarkson for his Napa Springs Spa and Golf Resort. Still another is a series of posthumous credit-card charges that indicate that Alain is still alive. Los Angeles attorney Jack MacTaggart (Green-Eyed Lady, 2013, etc.) doesn’t know much more about wills and estates than he does about fine wines. On the evidence of his recent TV performance, however, Philippe is convinced that Jack’s the man for him, and his daughter, Claudia, seals the deal by taking Jack to bed. The hearing to determine whether to declare Alain legally dead ends abruptly, sending Jack scurrying home. But it’s not long before he gets another barrage of calls from Claudia and Clarkson begging him to return. Phil has been found floating in a vat of pinot noir, and there’s no question at all that he’s dead. If you think a case with so few suspects will be simple, think again. Very few readers will be able to identify the last heir.
Without ever breaking a sweat, Greaves gives an object lesson in how to work the greatest number of permutations with the smallest number of players. Pray that the man never takes up three-card monte.