Rivalries between vintners cause blood to flow like Italian red in the viticulture region near Crozet, Va.
Harry (née Mary) Minor Haristeen (The Tail of the Tip-Off, 2003, etc.), newly remarried to Fair, her favorite veterinarian, is devoted heart and soul to Fair, her farm, horses, her sleuthing pets—felines Mrs. Murphy and Pewter and their corgi pal Tee Tucker—and her latest addition, a quarter-acre of Petit Manseng wine grapes. Darkness falls when Prof. Vincent Forland delivers a lecture on the use of fungi in bio-terrorism and vanishes on his way home to Virginia Tech. Tucker sniffs out his body in Harry’s peach orchard—a discovery that aggravates the strange behavior of Forland’s former students Toby Pittman, a brilliant but mentally disturbed viticulturist/oenologist, and his rival Arch Saunders. Arch, who had a brief affair with Harry after her divorce, runs the Spring Hill vineyard for Rollie Barnes, a cunning businessman of dubious character. When Toby is shot, the police suspect French wine expert Hy Maudant and Fair, who discovered the body. Harry, unable to let the problem rest, finally realizes who’s guilty. Only her brave pets and a coterie of barn-dwellers save her from death.
Perhaps too much on the burgeoning wine business, but the delightful banter between the animals is sure to please fans who don’t mind watching interesting human characters take a back seat to clever critters.