GRAPE NOIR by Kit Sloane

Review by Denise Baton


Final Cut cover Margo Power, publisher of DEADLY ALIBI PRESS has put out a second Margot O’Banion book written by Kit Sloane and there’s no wonder. Kit’s prose is a delight to read. Ms. Power received word from BOOKLIST that DEADLY ALIBI PRESS has been selected as one of the Best New Mystery Imprints of the Year along with Crippen and Landru, Durban House, and Poisoned Pen. FINAL CUT, the first in the Margot O’Banion series by Kit Sloane was the book mentioned in the announcement.

In Kit Sloane’s latest in the Margot O’Banion series, GRAPE NOIR, every chapter begins with a wine review that sets the tone for the unfolding drama. Our heroine, Hollywood film editor, Margot O’Banion, finally gets to go on vacation for the first time in twenty years with her director, slash, lover, Max Skull, who has planned a romantic getaway. Too bad their wine tasting adventure before dinner is ruined by poisoned wine that causes a lovely female guest to leave in a spasm, kicking her way out of this life and into the next.

Though Margot’s lost her appetite, Max is determined that they keep their date for dinner at the ultimate in foodie orgy extravaganzas, La Luna Azul. But, you know, these things like murder mean sheriffs and investigations, all of which cause our couple to arrive late for their romantic dinner reservations. Not to worry, because the Cinefuccos, the highly respected wine makers of the land, recognize Max, as the famous Hollywood director he is, and invite the couple to sit with them. You might have thought Margot and Max were having trouble on their romance getaway before this point. There is no reference to compare to the twists and turns this story takes under the ministrations of the Cinefucco family. Just leave it to two handsome, power-thirsty brothers, and their beautiful sister, Loretta Rose. This family has all the wine secrets and enough hangers on to fill a house. These ingredients make for a bouquet of intrigue.

I won’t reveal more because each discovery is so unusual and not meant to be spoiled. All I can say is that GRAPE NOIR is very Hitchcockian. Whatever you do, don’t miss this Margot O’Banion mystery with its dark wines, dark caves and a dark-haired woman.

GRAPE NOIR, it’s robust and intense, with hints of tar, spicy flavors and brooding overtones ruling to a good finish.

Copyright © 2001 Denise Baton