Vulture au Vin
Quick Overview :
Theodore Lyon, oil billionaire and wine collector extraordinaire, asks San Francisco-based wine writer Jean Applequist to cover a historic tasting at his Southern California compound. It's a career coup for Jean and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to taste great Sauternes from as far back as the 1811 comet vintage. What could possibly go wrong?
A tragic end to Jean's first luncheon with Lyon foreshadows trouble to come. Her worried boyfriend, Zeppo, insists that their friend Roman Villalobos, a gay martial arts expert, accompany Jean to Lyon's palatial Phoenix Gardens for protection. At Lyon's estate, Jean and Roman find not only a world-class wine cellar, but a museum-quality collection of Chinese art. Jean discovers an outrageous ulterior motive for her invitation to the tasting. She and Roman also befriend Bernie Lyon, the scion of the Lyon clan and a struggling filmmaker.
It turns out Zeppo was right to be concerned. Jean and Roman encounter family drama, drug dealing, manmade disasters, betrayal, and murder, all against the backdrop of ever-present vultures. Is there a connection between the stabbing death of a young local woman and the Lyon family? Are all of Lyon's eccentric guests really who they claim to be? As great wine flows, the body count mounts. Before the weekend's out, Jean and Roman must prevent their own brutal murders and flee a raging wildfire.
Back in San Francisco, all seems well until repercussions from the Phoenix Garden fiasco lead to a brutal resolution that leaves Jean, Zeppo and Roman deeply shaken and changed forever.
LISA KING has worked as an editor and writer for wine and food magazines, including Wine Spectator and Wine Country Living. She is now a writer and wine lover in Southern California. This novel is a sequel to her successful first Jean Applequist mystery, Death in a Wine Dark Sea.