A dress found in an attic is the first clue in a mystery spanning decades.
A visit from her sometime lover Quinn Santori’s cousin, famous California winemaker Gino Tomassi, brings trouble to vintner Lucie Montgomery. Gino’s being blackmailed about some shadowy matter involving Johnny Tomassi, Quinn’s great-grandfather—perhaps the death of Johnny’s first wife, Zara, whose baby, born in California just before Zara died, may have been fathered by President Warren Harding. Though Quinn’s estranged from his family, he’s in possession of the steamer trunk belonging to Johnny’s second wife, Angelica. Gino wants the trunk, but before he gets it Lucie discovers a hidden cache of indiscreet love letters between Zara and Harding. Lucie’s not surprised when she finds a group photograph taken at a house party near her family home of Zara sitting on Harding’s lap. But she’s very surprised to see in that photo a dead ringer for Lucie wearing the dress Lucie had found in her own attic and planned to wear to a Valentine’s Day party. The look-alike is Lucie’s great-great-aunt Lucky Montgomery. As she puzzles over the relationships in Quinn’s family, Lucie’s also helping Faith Eastman, an old family friend who overheard an argument that made her suspect that her friend Roxy was murdered just after she changed her will. Roxy had a child by a British pilot and gave the girl up to his family after he was killed. That girl’s daughter is named in Roxy’s new will. Attacked and left to freeze in the snow by a masked intruder who thinks she’s too close to discovering the truth, Lucie survives to find the thread that binds all three families.
Crosby’s cases featuring the sleuthing winemaker and her troubled romantic partner (The Sauvignon Secret, 2011, etc.) are always good value. Even mystery mavens who miss the clue to who’s pulling the strings will savor the spicy family relationships.