Death in a Wine Dark Sea

Death in a Wine Dark Sea

5.0 1
by Lisa King

See All Formats & Editions

Imagine a 32-year old Nancy Drew who's seen a thing or two, has a sophisticated career as a wine magazine writer, is not interested in monogamy, and has the kind of sex appeal only an independent woman can possess.

Though she despises the groom, Jean Applequist boards an elegant yacht in San Francisco Bay for the wedding of her good friend Diane and wealthy real


Imagine a 32-year old Nancy Drew who's seen a thing or two, has a sophisticated career as a wine magazine writer, is not interested in monogamy, and has the kind of sex appeal only an independent woman can possess.

Though she despises the groom, Jean Applequist boards an elegant yacht in San Francisco Bay for the wedding of her good friend Diane and wealthy real estate developer Martin Wingo. But things go terribly wrong: the evening ends in tragedy, not celebration when, after exchanging vows, Wingo disappears into the bay.

Diane asks Jean to investigate Martin's murder out of fear that the police will uncover too many of his secrets. Jean agrees, but discovers it's not easy to find out who killed a blackmailer and a womanizer. The list of potential suspects is long.

Joining forces with the young and geeky Zeppo, Martin's former assistant and armed with the details of Martin's operation, the two soon find themselves way ahead of the San Francisco homicide detectives, a dangerous place to be.

Their questioning of Martin's victims elicits strong reactions, from fear to rage to attempted murder that endanger them both and force Jean to fight for her life - twice.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
San Francisco real estate mogul Martin Wingo made many enemies during his career, but it was just bad form to throw him overboard at his own wedding. Jean Applequist, wine columnist and good friend of Diane, the bride, finds herself in the middle of a murder case when his corpse washes up. Impetuous Jean quickly enlists the sleuthing help of her best gay friend Roman, who is a martial arts expert, and Zeppo, Martin's young protégé. Brilliant Zeppo knows Martin's dark secrets—there's the Eastern European people-smuggling connection, a world-famous author, the ex-wife, and the mistress, and that's just for openers—and he and Jean appear hell-bent to investigate them all. Mix in Jean's insatiable sex drive and some lively escapades for an eye-popping read that puts the sizzle into romantic suspense. VERDICT This debut is overstuffed; some of these suspects could have been saved for another book. Still: Sexy? Absolutely. Suspenseful? Ditto. Along with her nonstop action, King manages to make foodies and wine aficionados drool.
Kirkus Reviews
A wine writer turns sleuth when a friend's bridegroom dies in mysterious circumstances. Martin Wingo is not the kind of guy you'd want to end up with one of your friends. So when Jean Applequist is invited to Martin's wedding to her old buddy Diane, she's anything but excited. Sure, the party is on a yacht, which provides ample opportunities for Jean and boyfriend Peter to, um, explore, but that's the most Jean anticipates will happen--that is, until the ceremony, at which point Martin vanishes suspiciously from the ship. When his body is recovered some days later, Diane, distraught, implores Jean to investigate with Martin's young lackey, Zeppo. Getting involved in investigating with Zeppo teaches Jean a little bit more about the unsavory business Martin was running behind his real estate development front. Their discoveries show that Martin was involved in dangerous dealings, and the two have to figure out which of several well-motivated suspects got to kill him first. Their sleuthing also brings Jean closer than she anticipated to Zeppo, who has until now always seemed like a geeky little brother to the more worldly and sophisticated Jean. An unremarkable debut with reasonable pacing but character types that have been worn-out in the genre. Is it too much to hope that the series will age like a fine wine?

Product Details

Permanent Press, The
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Lisa King graduated from U.C. Berkley. She has written for San Francisco magazine and among other notable celebrities interviewed Julia Child, who made her lunch (a delicious open-faced omelete browned with a blow torch). Lisa was Wine Spectator's first copy editor and wrote a cover story for the magazine on Thomas Jefferson's love affair with fine wine.

As senior editor of Wine Country Living magazine in Sonoma, she determined conclusively, after exhaustive research, that California produces better wine than Virginia. Lisa is currently a magazine editor in Southern California. She has three children, four cats and a bad dog.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Death in a Wine Dark Sea 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Seriously good wine, characters, locations and mystery. Jean Applequist has a nose for seriously good wine. She can recognize the real from the fake, and she writes wine columns with great aplomb. She’s famous, and she’s hard to miss with that curious cut of prematurely silver hair. She’s a great character, and she carries Lisa King’s mystery novel, Death in a Wine Dark Sea, lifting it high above the general mystery genre. Jean likes men, doesn’t like monogamous commitment, takes risks, and notices things. So it’s not surprising her friend asks her to investigate when the groom at a high-class wedding falls into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. The list of suspects is pleasingly peopled with rich and famous larger-than-life characters, each with their own devious secrets, each enjoying their own masterfully planned success. Jean enlists the help of the victim’s oddly secretive and geeky associate, Zeppo, and soon the two of them are enjoying fast cars, fine dining and high speed chases through gloriously depicted California countryside. The pacing is great with lulls to savor human comfort and food, then sudden frantic life-or-death threats of disaster. The characters are wonderful, from gay rights campaigner to ultra-right-wing bodyguard to politician to Vietnam vet. Death in a Wine Dark Sea is pleasingly dark but filled with light, intriguingly unconventional while still being a satisfying, red-herring filled mystery, a sensuous feast for all the senses, and a fantastic introduction to a modern-world, thoroughly American, high-society and intrepid Miss Marple for the 2000s. Disclosure: I received a bound galley of this novel from the publisher, the Permanent Press, in exchange for my honest review.
Davesfile2 More than 1 year ago
Death in a Wine Dark Sea has all the elements of a great read. Intelligently written, strong character development, twists and turns galore. Add great food, interesting locations in San Francisco and northern climes, exceptional wine, mystery, sex, and a cast of contemporary characters right out of Dickens' novel. A real page turner which I hated to have end. Can't wait for Lisa King's next book. Bravo!