"escape with books"
"I said nothing and leant back, closing my eyes, breathing in the light minty aroma that seemed to accompany Adam... was it cologne, aftershave, soap, toothpaste... chewing gum?"
"Wine is bottled poetry"
Robert Louis Stevenson
"My heart was thumping as the warmth of his smile seduced me, his light touch on my hair had sent a spark of electricity through my body. Maybe my hair was standing on end with static? I was lost for words but he spoke first,
‘My, you do smell sweet, Eve, like a marshmallow!’ Then he raised his camera and took my photo."
CASE 2: Provence
Once again, Kate Fitzroy leads her fans into the intriguing way of life amongst the vineyards and cellars of France. Now, in Provence, although the winter sun shines brightly from an azure blue sky, Eve soon discovers a dark secret threatening the privileged and wealthy life at Château Gilbert. It is not just the shadow cast by Mont Ste-Victoire that looms… can Eve complete her work assignment to write about the local rosé wines without being caught in another web of mystery and danger?
Scenery is fine ~ but human nature is finer.”
John Keats 1795-1821
"Albert spoke again, 'I have a test for our beautiful master or is it mistress of wine.'
I opened my eyes and sighed. This often happened at wine events. The host or a guest would ask me to taste a wine and wait for me to tell them exactly where it had been grown... the grape, the year... everything they hoped I could make a mistake over."
CASE 3: Roussillon
In the sunny corner where France touches Spain and the snow-capped Pyrénées plunge down to the Mediterranean... here, where the vines that cling to the steep rocky slopes produce a fine sweet wine... surely life is good? Idyllic? Not when there is murder in the air and suspicion falls heavily in the wrong direction.
Eve, Bernard and Adam travel together once again into unknown danger and struggle to unravel a mystery in Banyuls-sur-Mer.
Fitzroy fans get ready to follow on... the heat of the South of France beckons.
“Take my advice and live for a long, long time.
'What rubbish you do speak, Adam. Anyway, I’ve just had a good idea.’
‘Really?’ Adam looked at me in obvious delight, ‘I love it when you come up with one of your good ideas…. though they can lead to all sorts of murderous Midsomeritis troubles, come to think of it.’
RICH EARTHY TUSCANY
CASE 4: Chianti
The glorious landscape of Tuscany stretches in all directions around the stone ramparts of the Castello Montepazzi... as far as the eye can see. The rich and dysfunctional Harrington family from London own it all, vineyards, olive groves, cornfields and and paddocks... shouldn't they be content with their lot?
Eve, Adam and Bernard soon find that all is not as it first appears.
"The more perfect a thing is,
the more susceptible to good and bad treatment it is."
Dante Alighieri 1265-1321
"He strode ahead, wiping his hands down the sides of his jeans. Adam walked beside me and whispered in my ear,
‘Probably mad, bad and dangerous to know but I’m beginning to think he may be all right.’
‘Hmm,’ I answered quietly, ‘Not sure yet. We don’t need another mad dog English man out in the mid-day sun."
CASE 5: Frascati, Rome
It is Easter in the Alban Hills overlooking Rome, the sky is blue and the grapes are forming early. La dolce vita? Not so... a series of mistaken identities lead Eve, Adam and Bernard into another deadly mystery. Eve simply wants to complete her work, researching and writing about the local vineyards... but once again, there is a dark menacing threat that cannot be ignored.
From the five-star splendour of their grand hotel in Frascati, down to the shanty camps of immigrants along the coast at Ostia and in the film studios at Cinecitta... nothing is as it appears.
Is this a psychological thriller or a psychological romance? Can Eve resist Adam?
“I never said, 'I want to be alone. I only said, 'I want to be left alone.
There is all the difference.”
... 'he was staring at me again, so close now that I could see the pores of his heavy skin and the shadow of a beard. He carried on looking at me, and I had the sudden realisation that he was trying to intimidate me. I gave him an icy glare followed by the benefit of one of my best professional smiles. I had never been one to be bullied.
A FINE RACY WINE
CASE 6: Newmarket
In the heart of the quiet county of Suffolk, there is a Tudor manor house surrounded by a well-manicured, leafy vineyard. Perfect? Is life there as good as it first appears? Then, on the very border of this gentle county, lies the racy town of Newmarket. Here life is always on the edge. Jockeys, trainers, owners and punters all sharing the thrills and spills of the race course.
When Eve Sinclair, wine critic and TV celebrity, travels with Adam and Bernard to write the final chapter in her book she hopes to make it a quick visit... she hopes but then... is that love that is smouldering in the damp Suffolk air?
“Let others quaff the racy wine,
To whom kind fortune gives the vine.”
‘Ode to Apollo’ Horace
'Isn't it rather dark to be snapping your photos?' I asked innocently, knowing that he would hate the word snap and would definitely know if the light was good. Sometimes, maybe just to get his attention, I just couldn't resist from provoking him.'
CASE: 7 Loire Valley
The Loire Valley, land of rivers and fairytale chateaux, is usually a calm and tranquil place. Eve and Adam arrive in Saumur, planning to make quick work of the seventh chapter in their wine book. Bernard is soon aware of danger in the air but Eve, headstrong and determined, ignores his warning. But how was she to know how desperate the new owner of a Chateau on the banks of the river could be?
"Wine is like bottled poetry"
Robert Louis Stevenson
"Do you think there's a story for you here?'
'Hmm, not sure yet. The wines I tasted at dinner were decidedly disappointing. I expected the tannin to be held more under control. Tannat and Cabernet Franc could be considered unusual bedfellows. They need to mature for a decade or so to achieve a beguiling, seductive finish.'
Adam laughed, 'I love it when you speak dirty, my love..."
FULL BODIED LUSH
CASE 8: Gascony
Eve, celebrity wine writer, is researching the well-aged wines of Gascony, land of troubadours and musketeers. Adam, recovering from his work as a war photographer, is happy photographing the frosty winter vineyards with the stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Pyrenées. They are madly in love, but there is real danger in the madness in Madiran. Jealousy and jeopardy surround them when they penetrate the decadent aristocratic life within the walls of Chateau Virenzac.
“Never fear quarrels, but seek hazardous adventures.”
The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
'We had reached the brow of the hill and stopped for a moment to look back down the stretch of the vineyards. The surface of the earth was hard with frost, and we had left no footprints. Adam began taking photographs from different angles, and I watched him as he moved around. There was a sudden glimmer of wintry sunshine, and it glinted on the gold-blonde of his long hair. I sighed with pleasure at the moment and at the memory of our night together. He was a beautiful man, physically in the style of a Jesus Christ superstar.'
FRESH AND FRUITY
CASE 9: Verdicchio, Italy
There is an elegant coral pink Villa over-looking the Adriatic, there are steep vineyards of sharp green grapes ripening to gold in the Marchigiana sunshine... is it paradise on earth? Eve, celebrated wine writer and Adam, award-winning photographer,quickly find there is a dark side, violent and corrupt... more hell than heaven. Searching for fine wines they happen upon vile crimes... and their young lives fall into jeopardy of death.
“To be able to say how much you love is to love but little.”
'Do come in, do! You're...' The elderly woman who had opened the door to us was interrupted by an identical second woman standing just behind her.
'... right on time, yes, come in, come in, do.'
The double act was disconcerting enough, but at the same time, two identical Scottie dogs bounced around our feet.
CASE 10: KENT
High on the Kentish Weald, between ancient hop fields and apple orchards, there lies a large and prosperous vineyard. Thousands of bottles of sparkling rosé wine are produced.... an English wine success story? But hidden under the roofs of the historic Elizabethan manor house and its oast houses there is a hidden life... dark deceits lurk and there is an undercurrent of evil intimidation. Eve and Adam struggle against the unknown threat which reaches as far as Japan... but death is far too near.
“How camest thou in this pickle?”
The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1
'The sun had not reappeared from behind the clouds and now the November day was already darkening. A slight wind ruffled the surface of the water, and the small boats moored on the edge of the harbour were bobbing up and down. There was no sign of life. The inhabitants of Bardolino were sensibly staying indoors after their mid-day meal, staying warm and safe. The exact opposite of cold and dangerous.'
CASE 11: Bardolino
Eve, celebrity wine writer and Adam, award-winning photographer are nearing the end of their travels through the vineyards of France and Italy, sourcing information for their 'coffee table slab' book on wine.They are passionately in love and anxious to return to their happy and perfect life spent between Provence and London. It is November when they arrive in Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda, the wine festival is over and the new wine is ready for tasting. Eve finds this year's Novello is deliciously fruity, ruby bright and everything she hoped ... surely this will be an easy assignment? But the quiet life on the lake is as changeable as the early winter weather. Dark clouds gather over the towering Dolomites and danger is in the air.
'Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.'
Proverbs 31, 10
'Adam was stretched out on the small double bed, and I shrugged off the robe and slipped in beside him. He patted his very flat stomach and said,
'I feel so fat.'
'You're not fat, you're just long and don't think you can stretch your arms out as there just isn't room. I wonder why the French aristocrats always have such small beds?'
'I can't say it's a question I've ever thought about. In fact, it could be the worst first world problem I've ever heard.' Adam shifted into the middle of the bed and stretched his arms out wide, flattening me with one of them. 'You're right, it is small for a double, I can easily reach both sides.'
'If you're going to crucify yourself, could you please not squash me. You may look like Jesus but...'
Adam sat up quickly and turned to look down at me. I quickly shifted into the warm part of the middle of the bed as he asked,
'Look like Jesus, what are you on about now?'
I shrugged and held my central position, settling myself more comfortably on both of the pillows,
'Oh, I often think you look like a Botticelli or maybe Jesus Christ Superstar.'
'Holy Moly, what a dreadful idea. Anyway, it's ridiculous. Everyone knows that artistic depictions of him over the centuries are all wildly incorrect.
CASE 12: BORDEAUX
It is a few days before Christmas and just time for Eve to travel to Bordeaux to research the last chapter of her book on wine. Staying in a glorious Château in Margaux with Adam, camera ever-ready, and Bernard behind the wheel... all should be well. The assignment is to find two or three fine clarets to recommend to lay down for a future generation. Interesting and delightful work, surely? But, and there is always a but, there are feuding families and age-old secrets in the ice cold vineyards around Bordeaux. In this last case of the WINE DARK MYSTERIES, there is more danger and jeopardy... a grand finale of surprises, the epilogue of all epilogues and the exciting reason why this is the last Case... or is it?