A grisly murder leads two San Francisco detectives to the vineyards of Napa Valley.
The scene that stuns Inspector Renzo Dante at the Opera House on opening night happens not onstage, but in the men’s room. Someone has murdered Augusto Venturi, a powerful California wine magnate and old family friend of Dante’s, in an extremely horrific manner, re-enacting an Aztec ritual sacrifice. Dante and his partner, Jackson Wong, are assigned to lead the investigation, and Dante is certain the answers lie in Napa Valley. Among the mysteries they must solve: Why would someone kill a man who was already dying? At the same time, a Mexican woman named Maria and her young son Salvador are risking their lives by illegally crossing the Mexico-U.S. border and making their way to Napa. During their journey, they must elude not only immigration agents and the police, but also a gunman who is following them. Upon arriving in Napa Valley, Dante and Wong question several possible suspects, including Venturi’s ambitious widow, her son Cesare, who manages the vineyards, and a local environmental activist who had sent numerous angry letters to Venturi over the years. While all have some motive for killing the winemaker, none of them seems capable of the appalling method by which the murder was carried out. The detectives also learn that Hollywood superstar Cassandra Kelly is in town and has information that may be useful to their investigation. When Maria and her son arrive in Napa, things begin to fall into place, and more deadly intentions are revealed. Odegard, an actress, has written a suspenseful novel, filled with vividly drawn characters that bring the reader deep into the inner world of California wine country.
A satisfying vintage, with an edge of barbaric murder, a hint of romance and the smooth aftertaste of justice served.