TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX - Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Living on the edge of the Pyrenees (the ones in Victoria, Australia), surrounded as we are by wineries and winemakers, it's was a rather interesting experience to find myself reading TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX which is steeped in wine-making tradition, methodology, and a dash of intrigue.

TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX is the first in a series of books that are likely to be compared to the Number 1 Ladies Detective agency, if for no other reason than its incredibly strong sense of place and culture. Plus, whilst the book is crime fiction, there's not a murder in sight. This is a very different, dare I say, very French sort of a crime.

The book relies heavily on the development of the central, somewhat eccentric and rather bombastic character Benjamin Cooker. Cooker might be a man who agonises over his professional reputation when it comes to his wine based writings, but is also very firm in his position about life, food, wine and his place in the world. To this reader he seemed like an unusual combination of a quintessentially English Frenchman, and there are times when you wonder how it is that his new sidekick Virgile Lanssien doesn't simply throw his hands in the air and walk away.  It also builds a picture of a very particular world. That of the winemakers, of ancient and revered wine cellars, of the pressures of modern life and the relentless urban push. It has a message about the destruction of tradition that particularly resonated.

TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX is not, however, a book for action fans. It takes forever for anything like the crime to occur, and you'd be forgiven if you kind of missed it in all the wine facts (why was I hearing Oz Clarke and James May's voices all the time....). It's definitely a book for fans of expertise, of eccentricity and of a strong sense of place and people. Benjamin Cooker could be exactly the sort of wine-buff that makes some of us roll our eyes and mutter under our breath a little, but if you can handle the slightly superior tone, and see it with the humour implied, it is the perfect book for people who might like a little treachery with their evening glass of Bordeaux, a little history and tradition with their Merlot.

About the Publisher:  Le French Book ( is external) is a digital-first publisher that brings France's best crime fiction, thrillers, novels, short stories, and non-fiction to new readers across the English-speaking world. If we love it, we’ll translate it.

Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

Strange things are happening at the Moniales Haut-Brion wine cellars in Bordeaux. Who would want to target this esteemed vintner? World-renowned wine specialist turned gentleman detective Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, uncovering mysteries lurking in the shadows of prestigious estates.

Review TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX - Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Blog Currently Reading - Treachery in Bordeaux, Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen
Karen Chisholm
Thursday, September 6, 2012

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