Genealogy, history, and murder combine in a tale of passion and hatred.
Lucie Montgomery’s day starts with a bang when one of the workers at her Virginia vineyard finds a human skull while cleaning up a damaged shed. The medical examiner who checks the site identifies the skull as that of a young woman long dead and recommends getting an expert to examine the site. Lucie, who has a feeling the dead woman may be a family member, resolves to check the family Bible and records to see if they hold a clue. Meantime, a hurricane is due to hit the area before part of the grape crop is ready to harvest. Lucie’s fiance, winemaker Quinn Santori, makes the decision to pick the grapes if they can get help from the workers, who fear immigration raids. Even bigger trouble arrives in the form of Jean-Claude de Merignac, a Frenchman whose wealthy, aristocratic father has bailed him out of trouble with women throughout his life. Lucie’s mother’s family were friends of the de Merignacs, and Lucie had a crush on Jean-Claude when she was a teenager. As he settles into his job as winemaker for La Vigne, the neighboring estate, he’s accompanied by rumors about his affairs. Another secret Lucie’s hiding from Quinn is a DNA test that shockingly reveals that she and her siblings have a half brother, David Phelps, who’s asked to meet and talk with her. David’s mother is a well-known African-American politician who wants nothing to do with him. When Lucie does meet him, their talks about past history offer hints about who the unknown woman, now ascertained to be a murder victim, may have been. But Lucie’s deepest crisis still awaits the moment when Jean-Claude is found stabbed to death.
A corker of an entry in a series (Vineyard Victims, 2017, etc.) that often pairs fascinating historical mysteries with clever modern ones.