Charles and detective Gonzales, a cop trying to figure it all out, are the kind of standout characters series readers look forward to meeting again in book after book, and several others feel like they could be that, too, with clearer roles and more substantial development. This time, though, some of the cast don’t exhibit much individuality outside their story function as suspects or red herrings, which contributes to the feeling that the final revelations aren’t all that surprising.
The hook of this series—an ex-lawyer’s easy life upended by fallout from the work he did—remains compelling. Lively draws readers in with effective scene setting: a dark, tense walk when Charles is expecting to be attacked, and sequences in which characters are followed or worrying about who’s going to turn up. Less intense set pieces also have welcome detail and energy, such as the goings on at the art studio and, especially, an art gallery in full party mode. Lively’s frequent attention to wine will be fun for connoisseurs—and a distraction for non-oenophiles.
Takeaway: Mystery again comes for a retired lawyer in this sequel that will please art and wine connoisseurs.
Great for fans of: Vinnie Hansen’s Art, Wine & Bullets, Hailey Lind’s Feint of Art.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B