My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MF
Raise a glass to Cece Barton, a widowed single mom and recent L.A. transplant to California wine country, who suddenly finds herself at the center of a murder investigation in this sparkling new mystery series from Agatha Award–winning and national bestselling author Maddie Day.
As the manager of Vino y Vida Wine Bar in Colinas, Cecelia “Cece” Barton’s first Alexander Valley harvest is a whirlwind of activity. Her twin sister, Allie Halstead, who owns a nearby Victorian bed & breakfast, is accustomed to the hustle and bustle of peak tourist season. But Cece barely has a moment to enjoy her new home in between worrying about her estranged college-age daughter, juggling her responsibilities at the bar, and navigating the sticky politics of the local wine association. Just when it seems things can’t grow any more intense, Colinas is rocked by a murder within the wine community . . . and Cece is identified as a possible suspect!
With her reputation and her livelihood on the line—and the Sonoma County deputy sheriff breathing down her neck—Cece has no choice but to open up her own murder investigation. Tensions are already high in the valley, as a massive wildfire creeps toward Colinas, threatening homes, vineyards, and the vital tourist trade. And now, with a murderer on the loose, and Cece’s sleuthing exposing the valley’s bitterest old rivalries and secret new alliances, Colinas feels ready to pop! But with Allie’s help, Cece is determined to catch the killer and clear her name before everything she’s worked so hard for goes up in flames . . .
I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley and I voluntarily reviewed it.
I really like this author’s Country Story Mystery series and I was excited when I heard of this new series. Murder Uncorked is the first book in this new series set in California, where main character Cece runs a wine bar. I think this is the first cozy mystery I read that takes place in California and I felt the setting and store made for a different vibe than her other series, but Maddie Day’s writing style is the same and I could get easily sucked into the story. I read the prequel story in Christmas Mittens Murders before starting this book, so I was already a bit familiar with the characters.
I liked Cece as a main character, she’s smart and capable. It made sense how she got involved and I liked how she went about it in a smart way and took the danger seriously. Even though that doesn’t stop her from investigating I liked how she took the threat seriously and tried to be smart about things.
I liked reading about her relationship with her twin Allie, they are quite close and I haven’t read many cozies with a close sister dynamic. Allie’s sons also made some appearances and it was fun to see how Cece was an aunt to them. Cece also has a daughter who is studying at a university nearby, but their relationship is a bit difficult at the moment and she tries to improve that. Cece also has some good friends, like restaurant owner Ko and the couple Henry and Eddie. She also interacts with her older neighbor. And there is a possible love interest in Benjamin. They all made numerous appearances in the book and I liked she had such good friends around her. It was fun reading about all the character and seeing them interact.
The daily life and the cosy vibe of it all really worked for me and is one of the aspects I liked about Maddie Day’s country store mystery series as well. I already feel like I’ve gotten to know the characters and I look forward to spending more time with them in the next book.
The mystery was a solid one and I liked seeing how things progressed throughout the book. It didn’t keep me guessing too much though due to some important clues not coming to light later on. And when some clues came to light it felt quite obvious who the killer was. There is a lot of Cece asking questions and some characters involved to the mystery she gets to know. One of the suspects got ruled out in an unusual way, which was interesting.
To summarize: Murder Uncorked is a great start to this new series by Maddie Day and I already look forward to the next one. I liked reading about main character Cece who was smart and capable. It made sense how she got involved and I liked how she tried to be smart about investigating, although she still gets in trouble. I liked reading about Cece’s relationship with her twin Allie, I haven’t read a lot of cozies with a close sister dynamic. Cece has some good friends around her as well as a possible love itnerest. The cozy vibe and reading about Cece’s life was one of my favorite parts of this book. The mystery was a good one, but didn’t keep me guessing as much. There were some important clues that only came to light late in the book and after that it was quite clear who the murderer was. I really enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to read more about these characters in the next one!