A serial killer is on the loose in Bordeaux. A local chief detective calls wine expert Benjamin Cooker to the crime scene of a brutal murder. The killer has left a strange calling card: twelve wine glasses lined up in a semi-circle with the first one filled with wine. Cooker is charged with the task of identifying the fabulous grand cru and is astonished by what he learns. A second victim is found, with two glasses filled. Is the killer intentionally leaving clues about his victims and his motives? Memories are jogged about the complicated history of Bordeaux during Nazi occupation. It was a dark time: weinfuhrers ruled the wine trade, while collaborationists and paramilitary organizations spread terror throughout the region. In present-day wine country, time is running out. Will Cooker and his young assistant Virgile solve the mystery before all twelve glasses are full?
First published in France in 2005, this slight tale is the fourth Winemaker Detective mystery to appear Stateside (after Nightmare in Burgundy). Bordeaux resident and oenologist Benjamin Cooker is busy creating his latest wine guide when police inspector Barbaroux calls him to assist at a murder scene. Elderly Jules-Ernest Gr million was savagely attacked, yet 11 empty wineglasses have been neatly arranged nearby and a 12th filled with what Cooker identifies as 1942 Chateau P trus. Soon a second elderly victim is discovered, this time near two glasses filled with the same rare vintage and 10 empty. The ritual promises more crimes to come, while the costly wine's year and victims' ages suggest that Bordeaux's WWII history may be the key. Though its celebration of fine wine, food, and cigars charms, the book's brevity, simplistic resolution, and lack of female characters won't satisfy all palates.