Is a cache of fabulously valuable Madeira hidden at Montgomery Estate Vineyard, whose straitened finances could certainly benefit from the discovery?
That’s one of the questions Lucie Montgomery (Harvest of Secrets, 2018, etc.) seeks to answer after a strange conversation with wealthy Prescott Avery. His family is hosting an after-Thanksgiving party, and Lucie and her fiance, Quinn Santori, have been invited to enjoy a Brazilian meal and plenty of booze. Now that Prescott’s pledged to give most of his fortune away, his heirs are busy fighting among themselves, especially over his plans to sell the Washington Tribune. Escorting Lucie to his wine cellar, Prescott offers to buy the Madeira her great uncle purchased in the 1920s, a wine originally slated to be served at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence attended by President James Madison. But Lucie’s never heard of it—and if it did exist, she assumes her father sold it to finance his gambling habit. Showing Lucie a handwritten copy of the Declaration given to Madison by Jefferson, Prescott tells her to look for clues in a safe-deposit box he insists her father used and hints at a mysterious treasure that could be dangerous if revealed. Lucie’s ready to leave when she realizes she left her phone in the cellars and returns to find it along with Prescott’s body. Prescott’s death proves to be murder, and his family members are the prime suspects. At length, Lucie finds the hidden keys to the safe-deposit box. The papers inside provide further clues about Prescott’s dangerous secret. Fascinated by a mystery that involves the Founding Fathers, the Masons, and even the Jamestown Colony, Lucie plows ahead despite the danger.
Wine lore and mystery, both historical and modern, combine in an enthralling read.