Jack Donne
Created by William Relling Jr.

Vintner and sometime private eye JACK DONNE lives and works and enjoys a nice glass of wine occasionally in the (fictional) town of San Tomas, in California's (non-fictional) Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, He pretty much sums up his life in one paragraph:

That evening I had dinner with Donne Vineyards's accountant, Margaret McKenney. Maggie's worked for us for the past three years. My dad hired her around the time my mother died, a little over a year before he himself had the stroke that induced me to abandon the private detective career I'd begun eighteen months earlier, following my retirement from
the U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. After his stroke it seemed a good idea for me to go into the family business, something Dad had been after me to do for a long time anyway.

In his first recorded case, Deadly Vintage (1995), a fellow vintner whose wine is being counterfeited, hires Jack to look into things. along the way he's helped by Maggie, his significant other, his lawyer uncle Gerry, and homicide detective, Lt Brad Fitch of the Santa Ynez Sheriff's Department, a high school baseball buddy.

I finished the book earlier today, and while it's not the best thing I've ever read, it's far from the worst. In fact, I'm going to try to find a copy for myself (I read a library copy). But a caveat -- one thing that I really liked would probably drive most sane people to distraction, and probably makes me look like some kind of obsessive loonie -- the author describes things VERY, VERY precisely.

For example, when describing the bed that was the scene of a murder, he writes, "It was rumpled and unmade, and one entire side - the left-hand side of someone lying on it on his back - was drenched with blood." A lot of times, when an author says only "the left-hand side," it actually stops me while I wonder "left if you're facing which way?" I like to be able to picture things - that's probably why I'm so fond of the Dell mapbacks, or at least the ones with good maps/floorplans/etc - and with the descriptions in this book (from the above-mentioned scene to the description of the interior of a house Jack's walking through), I was able to visualize things without any problem and with no disruption of my reading while wondering "WHICH LEFT, DAMN IT!!!"

Now, which goes best with murder, red or white?

EVIDENCE OF GOOD TASTE, AT LEAST:

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Nathalie Bumpeau. Cheers!


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