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Murder by the Glass: The Verity Long Mysteries

Murder by the Glass: The Verity Long Mysteries

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Murder by the Glass: The Verity Long Mysteries

131 pagine
1 ora
Apr 12, 2018


Merlot-loving researcher Verity Long was happily sipping her way through a wine tasting weekend with her crime-writer boss — until the corpse of a fellow guest turned up in the winery.
When a storm isolates them and brings down power and phone lines, Verity forgets bouquets, acidity, and floral top notes to concentrate on catching a killer.

Unable to contact the police, and with no internet for researching her suspects' motives or backgrounds, the amateur sleuth will need to sniff out the killer soon, before the next dead body is her own.

Apr 12, 2018

Informazioni sull'autore

Lynda Wilcox's first piece of published writing was a poem in the school magazine. In her twenties she wrote Pantomime scripts for Amateur Dramatic groups and was a founder member of The Facts of Life, a foursome who wrote and performed comedy sketches for radio. Now she concocts fantasy stories for older children (10-13) and writes funny whodunits for adults. Lynda lives in a small town in England, in an untidy house with four ageing computers and her (equally ageing but very supportive) husband. She enjoys pottering in the garden where she grow brambles, bindweed and nettles along with roses and lilies. Oh! And slugs!  Slugs that feed well on everything but the brambles and weeds. Most of all, she loves to write —  it gets her out of doing the housework. She also reads a lot and enjoys good food and wine.

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Anteprima del libro

Murder by the Glass - Lynda Wilcox



Good morning, Verity, said my boss, Kathleen Davenport, as I walked into the office at her home, Bishop Lea. You like wine, don't you?

This was akin to asking if bears took care of bodily functions in forested areas. What was she getting at? I took my time before replying.

For a given value of like, yes.

But you do drink it.

Given the near half bottle I had put away the previous evening, there was no denying this.

I have been known to partake of a glass or two, on very odd occasions, yes, I agreed.

Ha! You positively live in the wine bar. Well, come over here and give me your opinion of this, will you?

I refuse to give my opinion on anything until I have a reasonable amount of caffeine in me, so I poured myself a mug from the percolator behind the door and joined her at the circular coffee table in the conservatory that extended the office.

Here. Take a look.

She thrust a glossy brochure into my hand. I sat down on one of the comfy chairs and flicked through what she'd given me.

'Wine tasting weekends at Green Ridge Wine Estate', it said over the picture on the front. Inside, in a triumph of copywriters' hyperbole, it listed the delights and achievements of the estate before giving details and prices of weekend-long vineyard tours and wine tastings, with accommodation and meals included.

The estate covered over 600 acres, the largest in Britain, though it produced only white wines, sadly for me. I prefer a full-bodied red.

Is this research for your next book? I asked.

I work as researcher-cum-personal assistant to Kathleen Davenport, the world famous writer of crime novels featuring amateur sleuth Agnes Merryweather, a Church of England vicar.

Oh, no. I keep you for that, she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Honestly, there are times when I just want to slap her.

"Though the current story does involve wine. I'm calling it Vintage Murder and, after our last weekend away at the writers' workshop, where you chose such an excellent wine for dinner, I thought you might like to come with me. Please say you will."

Despite the difference in our status and ages, I was actually good friends with my employer, so her request, then and now, was not unusual. However, the weekend she'd mentioned had ended in real-life murder and my boss coming within seconds of being wrongly arrested for the deed. If we were likely to get a repeat of that, she could go on her own. I was not getting involved in murder again.

Besides, she went on, not only do you drink it, you know a lot about it. More than I do, anyway.

In the dim and distant past, I had worked in France for a wine exporter and in London for a wine importer but I knew next to diddly-squat about English wines. I pointed this out to KD, as she likes to be known.

All the more reason to come with me, then. Think of it as adding to your knowledge base.

I looked back at the brochure again. It would be cheaper to take an adult education class or buy a mixed case and drink my way through it.

It's expensive, KD, five hundred quid, each.

Yes, but it lasts a full 48 hours from Friday afternoon to Sunday after lunch, and it includes three-course meals, with wine, on Friday and Saturday nights, two lunches, plus a tour of the estate, separate tasting sessions, and the accommodation has all amenities. It sounds like good value to me. Besides, I don't want to go on my own. I'll be the only single woman there and I'll feel out of things. And I'll pay all your costs, like I did last time.

What choice did I have? Nobody can wheedle quite as well as KD.

It was a typically British summer day. Steady rain fell in ceaseless sheets from a leaden sky and a stiff breeze was blowing as KD drove us away from Bishop Lea in her Range Rover. A shame. Had the choice been mine, I would have preferred to have taken her much sportier Jaguar.

The rain stayed with us as we turned off the M40 and headed south along A-roads. By the time we reached the Downs, the clouds overhead looked darker and more ominous still. The windscreen wipers struggled to cope with the deluge, sweeping from side to side faster than a violin virtuoso's bow.

In the gloom it was hard to make out the rolling landscape of normally spectacular views, where squat-towered churches dominated age-old villages filled with pretty cottages and thatched pubs.

The Green Ridge Estate lay five miles beyond Over Welming, the nearest town, and down a narrow track that curved in a series of 'S' bends between high hedges. We missed the turning to it the first time and came close to overshooting it again after KD had done a three-point turn and driven back.

Do you know where we are? she demanded, crossly.

Sort of. It's these stupid directions I got off the internet. It said to turn left after 5.4 miles onto Willowpit Lane. How are you supposed to know how far 5.4 miles is? And no one's told the search engine that the roads don't have name boards.

I peered out into the darkness just as the headlights fell on a sign saying Green Ridge Wine Estate, 1 mile.

There it is! I cried, pointing to the right.

The rain slackened as we drew closer, and I began to make out the vines marching down the valley side to our left in rigidly planted straight lines. They reminded me of the chains of paper dolls we used to cut out and make when I was a child.

Ahead of us an extensive brick building perched above the vines and, further to the right, a white painted farmhouse shone brightly through the murk. KD turned onto the short drive from the track and pulled up by an expanse of neatly-trimmed lawn in front of the main entrance.

I can't see a sign for a car park, can you? she asked.

Over there will do for now.

I pointed at the bays marked out with white lines on the tarmac to the right of the door and she parked the car next to the Estate's own minibus.

Well, here we are, then, she said as we got out of the car. The wind whipped around us. Bring the cases, will you, dear.

I stuck my tongue out at her retreating back. I know why she asks me on these trips.

Inside the open-plan foyer a large table served as a reception desk. A man and a woman stood behind it, their heads — one fair, one dark — close together, talking animatedly. They broke off as we entered.

G'day, and welcome to Green Ridge. I'm Hugh Pendleton, the estate owner, and this is my wife, Molly.

As if to prove that opposites attract, the blond-haired Hugh towered over his slim, pretty spouse, whose raven-coloured tresses tumbled in wavy profusion to her shoulders. They wore matching smiles, and tee shirts with the Green Ridge logo.

Molly came forward to take us through the few formalities of checking in, chatting away and exclaiming in delight when KD signed the visitors book with a flourish. She continued to prattle on as she showed us to our rooms.

There are twelve guests for the weekend and you all have rooms here in the Lodge, no need to use the farmhouse accommodation. We normally put our bed and breakfast guests in there.

She walked ahead of us down a long corridor towards a window overlooking the vineyards. At the bottom she stopped, pointing off to her left.

All the public rooms, the lounge bar, meeting room, and restaurant are down there. The bedrooms are this side and I've put you in adjacent rooms. Please let us know if there's anything else you need.

She threw open two doors.

Dinner is at seven in the restaurant, but the bar is open now for coffees and pre-dinner drinks. As you'd expect, we're fully licensed.

With a grin and a wink she left us to it.

Well, this all seems very nice, Verity. What do you think?

I humped her suitcase into her room.

I'll let you know when I've checked out next door. So far so good, though.

All right. Call for me when you've had a chance to freshen up.

I nodded and carried my own somewhat lighter case into my room and hoisted it on to the bed before walking to the French windows and peering outside. A paved strip, separated from its neighbour at either side by ornate trellising, formed a neat mini-patio complete with wrought iron bistro table and two chairs. Vine fields filled my view, stretching away to a copse-crowned hill in the distance. I wanted to linger but KD would not like me keeping her waiting, so I unpacked my few belongings and took my toilet bag into the en-suite bathroom which held the usual bijou toiletries and plenty of soft fluffy towels.

Refreshed and ready to join my boss after a quick wash and a change of clothes, I delayed a moment while I picked up the programme of the weekend's events lying on the bedside table and read through it.

The first wine tasting session would come after dinner this evening, with wine writer and critic Bartholomew Bone offering helpful advice on tasting. (Note to Mr Bone: that part was easy!)

A tour of the estate, including a talk by Hugh Pendleton on growing English wines, was scheduled for tomorrow morning. Following that there would be a visit to the winery for a demonstration of wine production accompanied by a glass of the estate's wine and pre-lunch nibbles.

After lunch we had the chance of a couple of free hours before more slurping of the good stuff — at least, I hoped it was good —

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