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A Case of Syrah, Syrah
Wine Country Mystery #1
Nancy J. Parra

Crooked Lane
December 12, 2017/ ISBN 978-1-68331-433-2
Mystery/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Taylor O'Brian has started a new business conducting “Off the Beaten Path” Wine Country Tours. She is living with her Aunt Jemma in Sonoma Country. During her first tour one of the members of the group, Laura Scott is murdered, and Taylor becomes a person of interest in the killing.

Taylor knows only one thing for certain – that she did NOT kill Laura Scott. With the press hounding her and the police not seeming to actively seek another suspect, Taylor takes Aunt Jemma's advice and launches her own investigation. Thank goodness she has her newly found puppy, Millie, to help her cope with the stress! Someone abandoned the poor pup in Aunt Jemma's vineyard and that in itself is another mystery in search of an answer. The dog was microchipped, but the owner can't be found, and Taylor hopes that the person never is found so she can keep Millie forever.

This is an interesting debut and for the most part, I enjoyed it. The characters and plot are well thought out and none of the clues too obvious. The cast of characters is fairly large, though, and I think that for future books a list of characters at the front of the book might be helpful. Also, Taylor's unwillingness to listen to her lawyer and not talk to anyone about the case became annoying. She talked to anyone and everyone, including the police without benefit of counsel. Taylor also put herself in harm’s way even when she knew the police would be arriving to deal with a particularly dangerous situation. I'd love to see the author give her a better sense of putting her own safety ahead of acquaintances and potential suspects.

The ID theft ring is a timely part of the plot, and I found that just as interesting as trying to figure out who the killer was.

Overall, the story is a good one, I love that there are animals included and I see the potential for a hit series with a few character tweaks and some added romance and humor.

Reviewers Note: Nancy J. Parra also writes the Perfect Proposals mysteries and the Baker's Treat mysteries.

Reviewed 2018