Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen with Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I have a review, excerpt and giveaway for this lovely short mystery story.  Please be sure to check out the other tour stops and then be sure to enter the giveaway where one international winner will get an eBook copy of this title.

Book Review:

A story that is so utterly French, focus on the more important elements of the moment, with an eye for appreciating all of the good and minimizing that which does not bring enjoyment.  Luxuriant in its wandering, from scenery to scent, taste and texture of food and wine, this is a story that eschews conventional presentation to put the countryside, the feel and taste of France at its center, and leaving the mystery to slowly unfold, almost forgotten in the need to present the next delight for the senses.

There is, however, a mystery: Benjamin Cooker is a vintner and a critic and the main character in our story. A trip to Paris resulted in some unforeseen situations, mugged and nearly succumbing to his injuries, Benjamin’s wine diaries, the notes of all of the tastings he has ever completed, are gone.  He is left to convalesce and heal, and wonder who would need his life’s work so desperately as to steal it.

Needing a change of scene, Cooker removes himself to the Tours region and suddenly there is a murdered girl and rare wines have gone missing: and somehow Cooker believes that the three events are connected.

Now, I will admit that the mystery was rather lost on me through the descriptions of wine and food that are positively mouth-watering, and this may not be a book for the more hard-boiled mystery fan, as the reality of the whodunit is rather obvious, but the prose is rich and vibrant: Anne Trager again has done a wonderful translation of the text, keeping the lush feel of the original.  This is a fun story to relax with, uncork a bottle, add some cheese or pears and just enjoy!

Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux and  Noël Balen with Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: Grand Cru Heist
Author: Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Published by: Le French Book
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 140
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Book Depository
See this Title on Goodreads

After Treachery in Bordeauxhere is another Epicurean whodunit in French wine country. Immerse yourself in French countryside and gourmet attitude with our wine-loving amateur sleuths. This time they gumshoe around the Loire Valley before heading back to Bordeaux.

One winter day in Paris, renowned wine critic Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down when his car gets highjacked. He loses his treasured tasting notebook and his feeling of safety. To recover, he retreats to the region around Tours, sure that the wine and off-season calm will restore is sense of self. There a flamboyant British dandy, a spectacular blue-eyed blond, a zealous concierge and touchy local police disturb his well-deserved rest. From the Loire Valley to Bordeaux, in between a glass of Vouvray and a bottle of Saint-Émilion, the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and very peculiar heist. Who stole those bottles of grand cru classé? Take this Epicurean journey through France to solve the whodunit.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


Paris finally returned to its splendor at dusk. Lights from the cruise boats caressed the buildings on the Left Bank. The bridges cast wavering shadows on the waters of the Seine. At the corner of the Rue Dauphine, a few patches of half-melted snow, curiously saved from the passing footsteps, were shining under the streetlights.
Benjamin Cooker had felt deprived of light all day. He awaited this miraculous hour, when everything could be reborn in the fleeting glow of night. As he got older, he had less tolerance for the unchanging leaden sky that covered Paris in winter.

Everything, from the pallid faces of café servers to the hotel concierge’s waxy complexion, the bare trees in the Tuileries Gardens, and the homeless camping out on the subway grates, seemed dull and gray. He had loved this city in his happy-go-lucky days, and now he found it suffocating.

Here, even the snow was hoary, dirty, and reduced to mud in a few hours with the constant comings and goings of the city. He missed peaceful Médoc, and he was impatient to return to his home, Grangebelle, the next day. The vineyards would be superb, all white and wrapped in silence. The cold would be dry and refreshing, and the sky nearly royal blue. He would go for a solitary walk along the Gironde just to hear the snow crunch under his boots. Elisabeth got cold easily and would probably remain in front of the fire in the living room, her hands around a steaming cup of tea.

Benjamin Cooker drove slowly, letting his gloves glide over the steering wheel while he whistled along with a Chopin nocturne on the radio. According to the too-ceremonious radio host, it was Opus 19. He was comfortable, settled into the leather seat of his classic Mercedes 280SL. He turned onto Pont des Arts to get to his hotel, which was near the opera house. The red light was taking forever. He lifted the collar of his Loden and turned up the radio as someone approached the car, flicking his thumb to mimic a lighter. Cooker squinted to get a better look at the man’s face. It was hidden under a hood, but he seemed young, despite his stooped, somewhat misshapen form. Cooker shook his head and waved his hands to indicate that he did not smoke.

The light turned green, but Cooker did not have time to accelerate. His car door opened suddenly, as if it had been ripped off, and cold air rushed in.

“Take that, rich bastard.”

The man pulled out a switchblade. Cooker did not move. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Breathe slowly. Think fast. He felt the tip of the knife on his Adam’s apple and gulped. A second man opened the other door and searched the glove compartment.
“Get rid of him,” he said, unbuckling Cooker’s seat belt.

The hooded man hit Cooker twice in the jaw, grabbed him by the tie, and dragged him to the ground. Then the thug kicked him in the stomach, head, and ribs

—“Take that, asshole.” The taste of blood and thick grit from the pavement burned his lips
—“Your mother’s a bitch.” A final glance, a few notes of Chopin
—“Eat shit, dirtbag!”—and screeching tires. Then nothing.


Open Internationally: one winner will get an eBook copy of this title.
Drawing closes on 10 April at 23.59 EST.

About Jean-Pierre Alaux

The authors of Treachery in Bordeaux, the first in the Winemaker Detective series, are Epicures. Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou. He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series, which he coauthors with Noël Balen.

About Noël Balen

The authors of Treachery in Bordeaux, the first in the Winemaker Detective series, are Epicures. Coauthor of the Winemaker Detective series, with Jean-Pierre Alaux . Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.

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