In the Dordogne region of southwestern France, winemaking flourishes alongside murder most foul.
There must be something in the grape that brings interior designer Mara Dunn (Deadly Slipper, 2005) back for a second confrontation with extraordinary violence. She’s accompanied by obsessive orchidologist and confirmed bachelor Julian Wood, ever on the lookout for his botanical Holy Grail, the rare and precious Lady’s Slipper. An ancient wall must be torn down if Christophe de Beaufond is to add an elegant gallery to his magnificent Aurillac Manor. It’s a plum job, and Mara is glad to be involved until the wall crumbles, revealing a tiny corpse, a baby dead for more than a hundred years. Soon enough, there’s evidence of infanticide and indications that the crime was brutal and well-planned. Mara is horrified. Julian might have been too, except for the embroidery on the baby’s wrapping in the pattern of the Lady’s Slipper, perhaps an important clue to the orchid’s whereabouts. There’s suddenly a spate of contemporary murder, seemingly connected to the dark doings of long ago. Dunn and Wood don their sleuthing caps, but there’s an even more pressing mystery to be solved. Does their relationship, so frequently awkward and mutually irritating, have a future?
The orchid lore slows the pace, but Wan’s pair of charming neurotics keep the pages turning.