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Murder in the Merlot

(Ray Elkins Mystery #7)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,212 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Autumn has come to Cedar County. It’s harvest time. The trees and vines in the orchards and vineyards are heavy with ripening fruit. For the tourists flocking to the tasting rooms of the region’s vineyards, the land- scapes and seascapes provide an elaborate tapestry of rich colors and textures.
However, there is one discordant note in this pastoral splendor, the crumpled
Kindle Edition, 264 pages
Published March 30th 2015
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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 ·  1,212 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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8th book in the Ray Elkins series, which follows he adventures of a mystery solving sheriff in northern Michigan. I like reading these. They make me a little homesick. I was born in southwestern Michigan and lived there again after college.
Aaron Stander does a much better job of holding my interest in "Murder in the Merlot" than in the previous book, "Death in a Summer Colony."
This one starts with the body of a famous wine blogger found in a vineyard. She lives in New York, but she seems to ha
Paula Miceli
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Michiganders
This is the latest of Aaron Stander’s Sheriff Ray Elkins murder mysteries. This may not be my favorite of the eight in the series (so far), but it was entertaining and an easy read. I felt the ending came very quickly. I had to check back to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter or two. I enjoy the multitude of Michigan references in Stander’s books. Most Michiganders will recognize that the fictionalized Cedar County, Michigan is, in real life, Leelanau County.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This may be the best Aaron Stander book yet. The plot keeps you guessing and as usual Lake Michigan is right there playing along. If you have ever traveled into the northern part of Michigan you might recognize many of the places described. The characters continue to develop as these books progress and I look forward to each new revelation. The kayaking and boating scenes are breathtaking and the descriptions will leave you chilled as if you too have been drenched in Murder in the Merlot (Ray Elkins Thriller Series) (Ray Elkins Thrillers Book 8) by Aaron StanderLake Michigan. Great read.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars for this mystery that takes place in the NW part of lower Michigan. I'm not a mystery fan but liked this one because of the location as it's about fifty miles from me and one of my favorite places. Lovely descriptions of the area. Sheriff Ray Elkins investigates the murder of a woman who is found dead in a vineyard. It quickly leads to other murders.
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So happy to have discovered this series. This installment doesn't disappoint. Good read. Likable characters.
Shoaib Khan
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the good mystery/thrillers I've read lately. Should mention that I've not read any of the previous books in the Ray Elkins Series, and there's no need this story is independent. I assume all the other stories in the series are also independent.

In short the storyline goes on like this: Ray Elkins, who is a veteran, is an elected sheriff at the Ceder County. An ambitious wine expert has been killed in a privately owned vineyard. Ray and his deputy Sue starts investigating. After a lot of t
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-kindle
I can't believe I haven't read any of Aaron Stander's books before this one, #8 in the Ray Elkins mystery series. I loved it! Elkins is the Sherrif of Cedar County, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Michigan. He is the type of protagonist I enjoy: erudite, thoughtful, logical, literary, often quoting novelists and poets to make a point. This mystery centered on the burgeoning wine industry in northern Michigan where the body of an international wine expert is found in one of the local vineyards. I ...more
Holly A. Woodruff
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kept me interested

I hadn't read any of the previous books in this series, but the story is self contained. You don't get a lot of backstory on Ray, Sue and Hanna, but it's not hard to figure out the relationships. Sometimes the action jumps ahead with a new chapter, which is why I didn't give the book five stars, but there is action and bodies throughout. While this has a title suggestive of a cozy mystery, and there is no sex or bad language, it doesn't read like a cozy. There is a subplot rega
Lisa Ezzell
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
VERY intriguing read

All about the wine trade. Throw in an unusual death, a murder actual, that turns into multiple murders. The Sheriff, Ray is a deep thinker, and this book is written from his perspective. He is surrounded by two women that seem to love him deeply and they have formed the kind of friendships that we all strive for. One helps him solve the murders, as she has to deal with her own life altering near crisis. Thanks to his other friend, they are able to all deal with everything suc
Patsy R. Allen
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quiet, thoughtful entertaining read

I loved this author's style and approach to revealing insight about his characters. I've already lined up his other books in this series. His protagonist Ray is someone I would love to know in real life...that's how well the author made him appeal to me. The setting in UP Michigan was wonderful to "see" as I've always wanted to visit but will never have an opportunity. I'm grateful to have stumbled on such a great storyteller who demonstrates such command of th
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed this book mostly because I'm familar with the Leelanau area and its growing wine culture. However, this was one of those books that I rather wish had been written by someone else. I felt the main characters lacked depth, the plot wandered down some oddly irrelevant tangents in places, and the sense of place could have been conveyed better. I liked the storyline, but thought it would have been more compelling in defter hands. All in all, I'd say it's a decent read for people already fam ...more
My friends own a wine shop and sponsor a once-a-month book club featuring books that mention wine and other spirits. This entry was a serviceable read, not breaking any new ground but providing information on the winemaking industry in Michigan. This novel is 8th in a series but the reader is able to follow all the action without having read previous entries.

I thought the protagonist was uninteresting and, other than location, nothing sets the mystery series apart from the hundreds of others tha
Jennifer Robb
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Amazon
I thought I'd read previous books in this series in the past, but as I read, I couldn't remember any of the history of the characters--so now I wonder. I was a bit confused as to the relationship between Ray and Hanna--but I think they aren't so sure about it either, so that might be why. There also seems to be a bit of a love triangle with Sue also being in love with Ray.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read the other reviews of this book and feel like I am on a different planet. The premise for the story is good and it could have been a good mystery if the plot was not so choppy and disjointed and the characters so underdeveloped. I was underwhelmed and only gave it 2 stars because I actually finished it (hoping it would redeem itself at the end).
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: state-by-state
Picked this up at a used bookstore while on a Michigan vacation since I thought it could be a fun addition to my State-by-State bookshelf. I was glad I did. It was a most enjoyable read especially while I was in or near so many of the locations mentioned. I decided early on that I’d have to track down some more of Sheriff Elkins’ stories. Well done, Mr. Stander.
Cathy Pelham
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable blend of wine, location and murder.

This entry in Aaron Stander's Ray Elkin series is a solid mystery that was able to surprise me without forcing a solution. It brought back many memories of Northern Michigan, describing the scenery and lifestyle perfectly. I am looking forward to reading more.
Shirley Goetz
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of corpses! Lots of Vino!

Quite a good read. As a former Michigander who has been to every place mentioned in this book, I could envision all the locales. Interesting story, interesting characters but difficult to imagine where the characters will show up in future books. Lots of not so nice people involved in the wind business. Romance?? Ray? Sue? Hannah?
Joseph P. Pascucci
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Riveting Read

Well written, this book takes the reader on a suspenseful journey through Michigan winemaking country, but is full of suspense. Along the way, the reader meets several interesting personalities whose connectivity leads to a somewhat surprising conclusion.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Suspenseful yet enjoyable

Aaron Stander has created a character that could be the sheriff in the next town. Completely believable and realistic. The stories themselves are mysterious and suspenseful and very well written. Very well worth reading.
Glen J
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Would you like some goat cheese with your whine?

No whining about this great Ray Elkins story. A twisty, turny story with a nice smooth and satisfying finish. I'd give it 90 points.
Tami Anderson
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mystery in Michigan

Enjoyable quick read. I enjoyed the Traverse City setting of this book, an area I'm familiar with as a resident of the Upper Peninsula of MI. Great story with numerous twists and turns to engage the reader.
Thomas Lennek
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A red to die for

Interesting wine backstory to the plot. Story pace really sped up in the last few chapters. Complex characters with life issues as well as their jobs. I liked the book and will look for more Ray Elkins thrillers.
Sandy Adams
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable.

My first Ray Elkins story, I found the characters likeable and a plot that keeps you guessing. While some readers may think they know who is behind the mystery, most, I think will be surprised.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable Characters, Interesting Plots - Minor spoilers

Quite a lot of complications. Wine in Michigan surprised me. I knew that lockdown drill would be an important factor. I felt like the villain should have been more devious for as successful as he was for a time.
Donna Engler
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow! The murders keep on acomin'.

Exciting from the very first chapter. Interesting characters and a good script. Keeps you guessing until everything comes to a head. Sheriff Ray appears to be a very smart guy. Good dialog and lots of imagine. Enjoy!
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aaron Stander's Ray Elkins series always delivers a good read. As usual, Murder in the Merlot was a "read until the end" story with a plot line that I didn't figure out until the very end.

I recommend this book to all mystery lovers.
Phil Ellenberger
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Good story

A nice tale about northwest Michigan. The sheriff is efficient. The characters are a little two dimensional. The telling a little too dispassionate. All of which reduced the stars. It just didn't grab me but was a pleasant read.
Marilyn Burrows
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
He was just doing his job, the best that he could do

He is a sheriff. He has a great team to work with. Not much happens in his little place in his world. And then, very unexpected events start taking place. There are murders, dog kidnapping, unexplained fires
Sonjie Outlaw
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wine country in Michigan

This was a really good book. Murder in the vineyard, making fake wine from France and still more murders to cover up the fake wine. Ray, Sue and Hanna make for good characters.
Joanne Van Nevel
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great Read!

Started reading before our trip to Sonoma County, Ca. Loved already having some knowledge before visiting wineries there. The excitement of the murders taking place in wine country was an added bonus. Held captive to very end!
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Aaron Stander spent most of his adult years in the Detroit area, where he taught English and trained writing teachers. In 2000 he and his wife left college teaching positions and moved permanently to their cottage near Traverse City. Aaron is the author ten mysteries set in northwest lower Michigan. He is also the author of numerous articles, stories, poems, and reviews, and the host of Michigan W ...more

Other books in the series

Ray Elkins Mystery (10 books)
  • Medieval Murders
  • Summer People (Ray Elkins Mystery #1)
  • Color Tour (Ray Elkins Mystery #2)
  • Deer Season
  • Shelf Ice (Ray Elkins Mystery #4)
  • Cruelest Month
  • Death in a Summer Colony (Ray Elkins #7)
  • Gales of November (Ray Elkins Thrillers #9)
  • The Center Cannot Hold: A Ray Elkins Thriller (Ray Elkins Thrillers Book 10)
“After opening the doors to the engine compartment, they pulled the lead off the number three spark plug and attached it to the one there. They placed that in the bottom of the boat and poured in some gasoline. Wouldn’t need much, only takes a cup or two. And they might have used a lot more. Wouldn’t have taken long for fumes to fill the whole compartment. That would have been like having several sticks of dynamite waiting for a spark. Greg comes to get his boat. He doesn’t open and check the engine compartment for fumes. He just jumps in, hits the ignition. End of story.” 0 likes
“the base of the hill he brought the vehicle to a crawl, then carefully turned onto a two-track and threaded his way through two fieldstone columns, an old wooden gate angling away from one” 0 likes
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