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The Merlot Murders: A Wine Country Mystery (Wine Country Mysteries #1)

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,642 Ratings  ·  284 Reviews
"Finely ladled suspense," says the Sun-Sentinel about the complex flavor of Ellen Crosby's debut mystery set in the wealthy Blue Ridge wine country of northern Virginia, where vineyard heiress Lucie Montgomery must find a killer or lose her cherished family heritage.

A phone call at two thirty in the morning is never good news. Lucie Montgomery's semiestranged brother, Eli,
ebook, 304 pages
Published August 9th 2006 by Scribner (first published 2006)
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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithCrocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha ChristieChocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne FlukeA is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
Cozy Mystery Series
157th out of 677 books — 1,806 voters
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne FlukeAbby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria LaurieMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha ChristieThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Best Cozy Mystery Series
281st out of 1,352 books — 1,465 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,959)
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BJ Rose
I didn't realize this is part of a series when I picked it up - in fact, I didn't figure it out until I got to the end of the book and thought there should be more to the story, so I looked up the author's name and discovered more Wine Country Mystery books. Don't get me wrong - the murder mystery in this one is nicely solved, it's the family story that continues on. The author does a very nice job of getting the reader into the mindset of the winery owners, and there's a wine primer of sorts sc ...more
I've been reading good cozies for a while now, and this book is a sort of return to my old history with them. So Lucie's not completely stupid. No, scratch that - she is completely stupid. She gets into accidents that are not her making, sure, but her I'm completely fine reactions are over the top and annoying. Her crutch is that she literally has a crutch to walk with having had an accident that mangled her leg. I would think that would make her more concerned for her well-being after an accide ...more
Apr 06, 2011 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love cozy mysteries
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2011
I like mysteries, thrillers, detectives, police procedurals, you name it. And while I have a few favorite authors (Camilleri, Connelly, F. Kellerman, Larsson etc etc), I'm always worried that I soon run out of the cases by my favorite detectives, so I'm constantly searching for new mysteries to fill the future void and to expand the horizons. If I like the author, great, if not, at least I tried. And I would or will try another Wine Country mystery if one will cross my paths in the future...

Mar 01, 2014 Sandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of "cozy" mysteries
A murder mystery deftly intertwined with instruction in the basics of wine making as well as a little Virginia winemaking history is the imaginative cocktail offered up by author Ellen Crosby in The Merlot Murders.

Lucie Montgomery is an improbably heroine with an equally unlikely occupation. She is a woman who overcomes obstacles, both physical and emotional as she delves into two mysterious deaths while fending off a former lover, an abrasive vintner with a questionable past, assorted inquisit
I was going to give this 2 stars, but since I'm planning to read the next book in the series, I guess I must have liked it a little more than that! I listened to this book, and I must say I really enjoyed the descriptive language more than I probably would have had I been reading the book. Plus, I've noticed that the second book in a series is often better than the first, so I'm cautiously optimistic!

Partially crippled in a car accident 2 years ago, Lucie Montgomery has been living in France wit
Stephanie A. Cain
Jan 20, 2009 Stephanie A. Cain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I really enjoyed this one. The main character, Lucie, is an engaging character, and the setting is like a character of its own. You learn a lot about the process of growing grapes and making wine, as well as the history of the Virginia wine country.

Lucie Montgomery has needed cane to walk since the accident that ended her relationship with Greg Knight two years ago. She went to France to recover and only returns to America when her father is found dead in the family vineyard. There she discovers
Jan 29, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
I blame my dark eye circles and constant yawning today on this book; I made the mistake of starting The Merlot Murders late last night with the thought that I’d read a few chapters before retiring to bed. That never ended up happening, because it was simply impossible put the book down. I must confess, first of all, that I know virtually nothing about wine and have little interest in it. I don’t even like drinking it. But it speaks to Ellen Crosby’s excellent writing that I enjoyed not only the ...more
#1 in the Wine Country Mysteries. Lucie Montgomery takes over a struggling vineyard in Virginia horse country in this cozy mystery series debut. Interesting wine lore abounds but Lucie's personal interactions do not always ring true. Her brother and sister-in-law are caricatures. Her vintner wants to run the vineyard and winery with a free hand but Lucie argues that she is knowledgeable about the business and demands that he take input from her; the conflict runs through the book but her experti ...more
Okay, yeah sure, I usually prefer more hard-boiled, dark detective fiction with PIs or police procedurals and avoid mysteries with cheesy titles (like this one) and amateur-sleuth-driven plots (fill in here all of the food-related, cat-protagonist, knitting, botany mysteries with the pun-filled titles, and you get what I mean). But having recently moved back to Virginia, I was seduced by the setting in the Virginia wine country and any excuse to think about drinking wine.

While the plot will not
So yeah, I'm a sucker for these punny amateur detective books, whatever. This one was pretty good, a new one that I didn't get from my mom but instead from my future father-in-law, and my boyfriend and I couldn't stop laughing about him having it. He likes wine and mysteries, but maybe not the punniness so much. He didn't finish it--not his cup of tea--but he knows me so he gave it to me.

Lucie, the main character, is really appealing and the wine country setting is gorgeous. The wine facts and h
Angela Lynn Holland
I know I have said this about cozies before, but I loved this book. I enjoy all cozies that I read but this even more than others. One thing I like is that there was a little history involved in the story telling. Lucie is a person that I liked from page one, I even felt sorry for her at times even though she I think she can be a strong person. Greg made me want to reach in the book and slap him silly as well as Eli. I did not like either of them. Quinn is a person that one minute I liked and th ...more
Dec 04, 2014 Just rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It turned out to be a good book. I will look for more of Ellen Crosby's mysteries. I hadn't read anything by this author before so I wasn't sure how it would develope.
Let it be known that if you are in a bookclub with me and you choose a book I will read it. NO MATTER WHAT. (I'm not sure if that counts for anything but there it is.) "The Merlot Murders?" I mean really. And it's a series! You could also read "The Bordeaux Betrayal" and "The Chardonnay Charade." My eyes hurt from rolling so much. What a dumb book. But I already knew that from reading the title so here's a list of good things because I love being positive:

1) I learned some things about wine maki
Ok...okay. I finally picked up something outside of my comfort zone...a mystery. But at least it was based on a theme that I am familiar! Ellen Crosby's The Merlot Murders was a very interesting, and definitely reminded me of my years of working at the winery. Many of the author's references to the wine business made me chuckle as I remember only too much what it takes to make a winery successful.

The main character, Lucie, is summoned home by her brother because her father has been f
Jan 08, 2016 Kari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2016-read
I recently discovered the joy of listening to audio books at 1.25 speed, which means I can listen to a book in 25% less time. Coupled with a decent commute time, I expect to get through more audiobooks this year than usual. That all, of course, is an aside to the book in hand. Or not in hand, as I listened to the digital audio file...

I enjoy wine and mysteries, and went to school in Virginia, so this series seemed like a good combination of several things. I also know that the east-coast wine ma
Nov 21, 2015 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
While pondering the mystery section in my local library, I ran across this series of Wine Country Mysteries of which I was unaware. Judging from the title, I presumed the adventures would be based in Napa or Sonoma counties in California. To my surprise, these adventures take place in Virginia—our nation’s first “wine country,” if not most successful. In general, The Merlot Murders, and the rest of the series (I’ve already started The Chardonnay Charade.), seems to have the facts right with rega ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Merlot Murders, by Ellen Crosby,b-plus, Narrated by P. J. Davis/oran Produced by BBC Audio America, downloaded from

These are a little too close to cozy or even romance for me, and the narrator, at least of this one, was way too fond of the southern accent and made Lucy Montgomery, using that accent, seem sillier than the book would suggest. This is a whole series, and for those more inclined toward cozies it’s probably a good series, including some excellent history on wine-makin
Jan 20, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for my Mystery Book Club which meets later this week and it was a good choice. We normally read British mysteries so this was a nice change. Lucie Montgomery is the daughter of a family who has been in a grape-growing, wine-making family. She spent hours in the fields and winery observing every aspect of the process of turning luscious grapes into quality wine. An unfortunate car accident, which mangled her leg caused her to move to the family's French home in Grasse, France where sh ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Lois rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The murder and mystery is not all that exciting but the setting is great fun. Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in a vineyard, what could be better. Lucie is called home from France suddenly when her father is found dead among the vines. Was it really an accident? Why is brother Eli intent upon selling the vineyard and family home? Where is the diamond necklace her mother supposedly hid before she died? This is the first in the series on Wine Country mysteries and good enough that I will re ...more
The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby is the first book in the Wine Country Mystery series. It is another series that the local food critic mentioned in her Culture Map article. While I list it as a cozy mystery, it is a bit on the heavy side. Well written, lots of information on wine, the beautiful setting in Virginia.

Lucie Montgomery has been living in France in her mother's old cottage for the last several years, recovering from an awful automobile accident. She receives a call from her brother
Leslie Stansfield
I listened to this book on audio. I came across it by accident. Since I am an author myself, I am usually pretty good at spotting the killer. Not this time. I had a few things right, though. I am surprised that others gave this book anything less than 4 stars. The main character, Lucie Montgomery, is likable and smart. She is determined not to sell the family winery after the death of her father, whose cause of death is questionable. When a close family friend is murdered in the winery, Lucie mu ...more
Aug 25, 2014 GotMyReservations rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wine
When I'm traveling in my car, I usually choose light cozy books in which I'm unlikely to be shocked by overt sex and graphic language, since one can hear my speakers outside of my car if I'm at an intersection or parking. That was one of the reasons I chose The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby; it looked interesting but also safe. I was also intrigued by the idea of a book based in Virginia's wine country, rather than California or France. My choice did not disappoint; it's an easy murder mystery ...more
Cathy Cole
May 26, 2016 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read and enjoyed Ellen Crosby's Sophie Medina mysteries, I was looking forward to reading this first book in her Wine Country series-- even if I don't like wine. I found The Merlot Murders to be every bit as intelligently written and absorbing as Multiple Exposure and Ghost Image.

Lucie Montgomery is a complex character, and the plot certainly isn't short of family dynamics with her obnoxious brother Eli, his greedy wife, and their gullible little sister. There's also a head vintner on the
Tyrannosaurus regina
I'm actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this, and how much I'm looking forward to reading more of the series. The setting was fully realised without going overboard into the minutia of wine-making and the family dynamics were compelling. It didn't rely on inept law enforcement to give its protagonist space to do her own investigating, and while she got herself into some trouble it wasn't due to taking idiotic risks. There was still some whiplash characterisation, and I didn't entirely get t ...more
Jun 15, 2014 C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was swept away by the opening of “The Merlot Murders”. The imagery was emotional and enchanting. Lucie relocated to France, after an accident with a boyfriend crippled her leg. She and two siblings are from a Virginia, USA vineyard. It was the vision of their late Mother’s, a French native. Her brother telephones upon their Father’s death. His swearing demeanour marred reading immediately. Reasons given at the outcome didn’t justify antagonism. They were innate. Other content allows optimism f ...more
Michelle Randall
Nov 06, 2011 Michelle Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery, wine
A few years back I read a cozy mystery involving wine, and a vineyard. when I found this book, I was afraid it might be the same book, but after reading it, I realized that it was not. It was very close, but not the same place or time or storyline.

I am not a big wine drinker, although the older I get the more I want to know more about wine and to enjoy wine. So this book has information about wine making, wine growing and history. The additional information on types of wine, the varieties, where
Barbara VA
I have to give this one a 5 rating because it combines so many of my favorites in reading - wine, cozy mystery, homes descriptions, France, family relationships, small town, history and best of all, for me, local. I can really visualize every hill and road Lucie is on!

I found this the other day at my local store in a display announcing Ellen Crosby's forthcoming book ($ in the series) and I plan to be there for the release!

This is not a gory or hardboiled series. Lucie is called back from France
Susan Ferguson
Aug 02, 2013 Susan Ferguson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucie Montgomery has been in France for several years recovering from a car wreck that left her unable to have children and with a twisted and deformed leg. She requires a cane to get around.
She receives a call very late one night from her older brother, telling her their father has died - apparently in an accident. But her godfather, Fitz, believes that her father was murdered. Lucie's mother was French and had begun a vineyard in Virginia, bottling their own wines with a couple of labels exclu
Judy Iliff
Dec 13, 2010 Judy Iliff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps authors of cozies are getting wiser. This series, the Wine Country Mysteries, appears, at least according to the first book, to be another where the main character, Lucie, is the "little woman bent on doing whatever her SO tells her she shouldn't do". It really is refreshing, at least for me.

Lucie Montgomery has spent the last 2 years in France, trying to recuperate from an automobile accident that has left her dependent on a cane. Her brother Eli phones her to say her father, Leland, ha
Jan 10, 2010 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been having trouble sleeping the past two nights without the sounds of the waves on the beach outside my balcony, so I decided to plant my feet firmly back on the soil of Virginia. This book did the trick. A gift from a good friend with whom I exchange gossip, book news and reviews, and Christmas presents, this book was a pleasant afternoon's outing into the world of small Virginia wineries and the challenges presented to the producers of quality Virginia wines. Lucie Montgomery comes home ...more
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Mystery 6 30 Nov 10, 2014 04:15PM  
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Ellen Crosby is the author of 2 mysteries featuring photojournalist Sophie Medina: MULTIPLE EXPOSURE and GHOST IMAGE (Scribner, April, 2015). She has also written six books in the Virginia wine country mystery series featuring winemaker Lucie Montgomery, and MOSCOW NIGHTS, a standalone mystery published in the UK. Before writing fiction, Crosby was a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, Mos ...more
More about Ellen Crosby...

Other Books in the Series

Wine Country Mysteries (6 books)
  • The Chardonnay Charade (Wine Country Mysteries #2)
  • The Bordeaux Betrayal (Wine Country Mysteries #3)
  • The Riesling Retribution (Wine Country Mysteries #4)
  • The Viognier Vendetta (Wine Country Mysteries #5)
  • The Sauvignon Secret (Wine Country Mysteries, #6)

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