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Authors: Ellen Crosby

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The Sauvignon Secret

BOOK: The Sauvignon Secret
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Also by Ellen Crosby

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The Merlot Murders

The Chardonnay Charade

The Bordeaux Betrayal

The Riesling Retribution

The Viognier Vendetta

SCRIBNER
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Ellen Crosby

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Scribner Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Scribner hardcover edition August 2011

SCRIBNER
and design are registered trademarks of The Gale Group, Inc., used under license by Simon & Schuster, Inc., the publisher of this work.

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Manufactured in the United States of America

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Crosby, Ellen.

The sauvignon secret : a wine country mystery / Ellen Crosby.

—1st Scribner hardcover ed.

p.       cm. —(Wine Country Mysteries.)

1. Montgomery, Lucie (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Vintners— Virginia—Fiction. 3. Cold cases (Criminal investigation)—California— Fiction. 4. Vineyards —California—Fiction. I. Title. II. Series: Crosby, Ellen.
Wine Country Mysteries.

PS3603.R668S28 2011

813′.6—dc22          2011012425

ISBN 978-1-4391-6388-7

ISBN 978-1-4516-2841-8 (ebook)

For Tom Snyder

THE SAUVIGNON SECRET

We are all mortal until the first kiss
and the second glass of wine
.

—Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan journalist, novelist, writer

CONTENTS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

The Silverado Squatters

Acknowledgments

About the Author

CHAPTER 1

I didn’t want to kill Paul Noble. Yes, I said I did. Worse, I said it in a public place. In my defense, half a dozen people at that same meeting chimed in. “Get in line” or “join the club” or “you and me both.”

It was a figure of speech, and everyone in the room—twenty-five northern Virginia winemakers like me—knew it. At least that’s what I thought at the time. So when I found Paul hanging from a beam a few weeks later in the old fieldstone barn he’d converted into an artist’s studio, the first thing I thought was, “Oh, my God, someone really did it.”

My second thought was that I could see my breath because the room felt like I’d stepped inside a refrigerator, which was odd on a sweltering July day. A blast of arctic air blew down my spine, bringing with it the faint but unmistakable sickening-sweet stench of death. How long had he been here? A few hours—maybe more— based on his mottled face, bugged-out, vacant eyes, and the slightly blackened tongue protruding from his mouth. I put a hand over my own mouth, swallowing what had come up in my throat. At least the glacial temperature had slowed down decomposition.

A paint-spattered stool was overturned in a wet spot on the carpet underneath Paul. He’d soiled himself—his khakis were stained—but the rug was damp from something else. An empty bottle of wine lay on the rug on its side next to a broken wineglass. I didn’t need to lean in to see what he had been drinking. A bottle of
my vineyard’s wine, Montgomery Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. We’d won a couple of awards for it.

It was still possible to make out something in faded gold silk-screen on the wineglass. Nothing I recognized. No logo, no fancy calligraphy of a vineyard’s name or a commemorative occasion, just a cartoonish figure of an empty-eyed man whose hands were clasped over stubs of ears, mouth open in the perfect round O of a scream.

My stomach churned again. I reached out to steady myself on the glass-topped table Paul used for his tubes of paint, palettes, and jars of brushes, pulling my hand back in the nick of time. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department would be all over this place as soon as someone—meaning me—phoned in a suspicious death, and they’d check for fingerprints, fibers, and whatever they could find that would tell them who Paul’s most recent visitors had been. No point contributing evidence I’d have to explain later.

BOOK: The Sauvignon Secret
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