A Villain in the Vineyard by Connie B. Dowell

A Villain in the Vineyard

A Villain in the Vineyard by Connie B. Dowell (Millie Monroe Mysteries Book 2)
English | 2020| Mystery/Thriller | ePUB | 2.9 MB

It’s the county’s annual wine and beer festival. Millie and her bookmobile are on hand representing the library system in a celebration of local brewing and winemaking history.
But when a body is found stabbed with a winery’s corkscrew at a local brewpub’s festival booth, the party’s over. Could the killing have something to do with the rivalry between the two companies? Or is it all down to the wholesaler’s shady past?
Tensions rise in the battle of wine versus beer. And Millie had better find the culprit before it’s bottoms-up on another human life.

The air did smell especially delicious, and now that she would be officially off the clock, she didn’t feel bad about sampling.

“Sure,” said Millie, “I think I’ll take you up on that.” Grateful, Millie stepped out of the shadow of the tents and into the fading evening light.

Music played faintly in the distance, bluegrass, she thought. Even for this opening half-day, the festival had quite a turn out, both in terms of wine and beer vendors and folks looking for a good time and a tasty drink. Tents and booths of many shapes and sizes crowded the field in narrow rows. There were breweries, wineries, and even cideries represented from all over the state, interspersed with booths of artists or craftspeople displaying elegant ceramics or intricate quilts. Millie didn’t know where to begin. She decided to wander for a few minutes.

After a little while, she stopped and sampled some delicious red ale at one booth, and dry rosé at a different one. She made her way around a traffic jam of people gathered around a booth featuring the master of ceremonies, Pleasance Maron, who was selling autographs. Apparently, Pleasance was a local girl who made good. She’d been in a few T.V. shows ten years ago, but was now a bit of a has-been, save for leading local events like these. Millie could just make out the top of a head full of golden curls, as she peered around the crowd.

Millie wound her way around tipsy patrons wobbling from booth to booth, older folks leisurely strolling through the fading light, and even parents with kids in tow on their way toward the more family-friendly offerings of snacks and music.

Millie headed toward the snacks area herself and bought a salty soft pretzel. The music changed to an upbeat rock song, and Millie spotted her cousin Peter in a crowd near the speakers, dancing in a flailing way, eyes closed, wiggling his arms and legs like his life depended on it. She stifled a snicker and left him to his good time.

Millie paused to admire the view of many rows of grapevines in the fading light, a local vineyard visible down the hill from the open-air event space where the festival was held. She wished she’d brought her watercolors.

That was something else new for Millie. Since leaving law school, she’d realized how much of her life had been built around pursuing that goal. Once it was gone, who was she? A hobby might not exactly be a fully actualized sense of self, but in the middle of this quarter life crisis or whatever it was, painting some pretty plants seemed to help. Maybe that was good enough.

Millie turned down the path that would lead her toward the booth belonging to her favorite local brewpub, The Witch’s Brew. As she rounded the corner, she spotted two enormous tents side by side ahead on her right. The signs hanging on each tent caught her eye. One sign read: Best Beer Buddies, Westin County’s Craft Brew Enthusiast Club. The sign next door read: Vine and Glass, Westin County Wine Aficionados. While Millie passed the tents, she couldn’t help but see that the two groups did not look particularly happy about being placed next to one another.

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