Till Death Do Us Port
Grade : B+

Kate Lansing’s Till Death Do Us Port is the fourth story in the Colorado Wine Mystery series and the first book I’ve read from this author. Truth be told, I haven’t read any cozy mysteries recently. In my teens I devoured the Mrs. Pollifax stories by Dorothy Gilman and I’m an avid fan of the old Columbo TV series but clearly, my experience with these types of mysteries is somewhat dated. However, I see a lot of them in the library and in bookstores with cute punnish names (including this one) and attractive covers (often bearing some kind of food) and decided it was time to dive in.

Parker Valentine is a vintner, with a wine boutique in Boulder Colorado that does quite well. She’s dating Reid, a professional chef who is looking at expanding his restaurants onto the California coast. Her cousin Emma is getting married, and Parker is going to be providing the wine for the reception. On the day of the wedding, Parker witnesses an altercation between the wedding planner Prynne and the caterer, in which the caterer is fired for supplying what Prynne believes is substandard food. Then, in the middle of the ceremony at the ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ moment, a scream erupts through the hall, followed by a crash, and when Parker and her brother Liam rush out into the hallway, they discover a ghastly sight – Prynne is lying dead on the ground with a bleeding gash on her forehead. And standing over her is the caterer, with a dropped wedding cake at her feet. The wedding is understandably halted, the people in shock and the police and ambulance called. It’s a recipe for murder all right, but who is responsible?

Of course the obvious setup is that it’s the caterer’s fault, but since that’s a little too obvious Parker takes it upon herself to do some of her own investigating. Her mother also is eager to participate, and so between the two of them, they take the clues they find one by one to try to catch a killer.

I really enjoyed this story. As a wine newbie I learned A LOT about wine, from the grape growing to the harvest to what makes a good vintage. The author clearly knows her way around the subject and it flavours every aspect of the story. And speaking of flavour, because Parker’s boyfriend is a chef, there is plenty of delicious food in the story as well, including a few recipes at the end with some suggested wine pairings. There is an ongoing romantic storyline with Parker and Reid and in this particular book of the series, while the couple is together and committed, there is the added stress of figuring out what to do if if Reid opens a business in California and how his being away from Colorado for long periods of time will impact their relationship. I liked that Reid is very supportive of Parker and eager to find a way to work out their long distance relationship issues.

The mystery is quite fun, too. There are plenty of clues, many of them red herrings, that Parker and her mother have to sift through to get to the bottom of who would have a reason to kill the wedding planner and why. I’ll admit to having no clue as to where the story was going and who the killer would turn out to be, a testament to the author’s skill in weaving a good tale. At one point it seemed as thought almost everyone in the wedding party might have a motive to kill the caterer! The eventual reveal (not without some peril for Parker) leads to a satisfying and exciting conclusion with the right person apprehended and the wedding couple able to finally complete their vows, though not in the way originally intended (but in a much better way for them). There is also another interesting character, police detective Eli Fuller who, if it weren’t for the fact that Parker had a boyfriend, I would have considered a possible candidate for romantic partner for Parker. Her banter with Eli is reminiscent of that between Miss Scarlet and the Duke (in the PBS TV series of the same name). Overall, Till Death Us Do Port is a light, well balanced and refreshing cozy mystery and I’m ready to imbibe more.

Reviewed by Maria Rose

Grade: B+

Book Type: Mystery

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : March 13, 2023

Publication Date: 03/2023

Recent Comments …

  1. Serena Bell has never done wrong in my eyes; I went a little higher on this with an A-but it’s…

Maria Rose

I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments