A LETHAL VINTAGE by Martin Sylvester
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A wonderful, insouciant romp through an utterly sophisticated marriage. Narrator William Warner is a droll, vaguely misogynistic, wryly self-deprecating purveyor of wines, and his deepest problem is not that someone has shot his wife's lover--but that what was comfortably, workably tacit in their lives must now be talked about (or so says the Chelsea C.I.D.). While wife Claudine takes to her bed with a migraine, hubby William scurries over to the deceased's widow, Barbara, who--as the guiding force behind the Nature Store chain--has become ""the darling of the Unlisted Securities Market."" There, in a hallway confrontation, he meets Barbara's first husband: current suitor (among several, including, yes, William) Ludwig, a German artist down on his luck. Also there is mama's-boy Hugo. Back home again, William decides to concentrate his investigation into lover Jonathan's murder on Ludwig, and flies off to his native turf--Munich. The C.I.D., meanwhile, is zeroing in on William himself, the spurned husband. A longish interlude in Germany--involving Ludwig's drug-courier work; another killing; and a coming-to-terms-with-Ludwig--is followed by revelations about the dead Jonathan's dealings with architectural-firm partner Charrington; episodes concerning gone-amok lawyer Simson; motorcycles tailing William; a shotgun housewarming staged for William by Hugo; and several switches on just who was meant to be the real victim--Jonathan or William. Skewers men, women, the English, the French, romance, marriage, shopkeepers, wine snobs, and psychological malarky. Good plot, fine wine, great conversation--besides which, first-novelist Sylvester knows more about sex (good and bad) than Dr. Ruth.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1988
Publisher: Villard/Random House