Review of “A Sip Before Dying” by Gemma Halliday
Review by Colleen L Donnelly
For The Book Breeze
Emmy Oak is the perfect well-meaning and wittily humorous heroine to dig herself and her family’s Oak Valley Vineyard out of financial struggles that are suddenly compounded by the death of one of Silicon Valley’s handsome boy-toy husbands at an elite function hosted by her winery. Found dead in the wine cellar after sipping a glass of Oak Valley’s most promising, yet in his case poisoned, wine, this VIP’s death escalates media insult and public shunning of Emmy’s floundering business. Deciding at the outset that the handsome but poker-faced Detective Christopher Grant isn’t trying hard enough to solve the crime before her vineyard and winery go under, Emmy and her best friend set out to solve the case on their own. With amateur sleuthing skills, the two young women blunder forward with entertainingly humorous thoughts and methods as they struggle to narrow a list of possible murder suspects to only one. Stepping on toes, including Detective Christopher Grant’s, they finally step on the wrong person’s, bringing Emmy face-to-face with the surprise killer.
As a reader, writer, copy editor, and reviewer, I rank “A Sip Before Dying” as one of my favorite fun reads. The author took me the same road she took the heroine, without ever letting me know who the real murderer was. Emmy was very well done as a main character, very likeable, someone I cheered for, and someone with just the right amount of humor in her attitude to keep me engaged. I believe her personality and wit kept the story moving as much as the plot, making it a well-paced read as she and her friend agonized over their list of suspects.
I highly recommend this fun mystery, and for those who wonder, this book was sweet in the romance level, clean as far as language and heat, and nonviolent or graphic in content. I say to Gemma Halliday, well done. She wrote a mystery that encompassed suspense flavored with romantic notions, while giving us a heroine to make us smile.