Set in his native Hill Country, Hall’s rollicking Texas mystery focuses not on oil barons but on grape tycoons. The wealthy Castle family runs a 21,000-acre cattle ranch that also happens to house a successful vineyard. Patriarch Win Castle, whose heart is failing, pits his adult sons against each other in a ridiculous macho battle for control of the estate. Younger Chaz is more aggressive and triumphs—until he’s found dead in the fermentation room. Older brother Kyle is immediately a suspect, but when his mother is also killed, the field broadens. In fact, the Castles’ deplorable treatment of their employees gives almost everyone a motive. Helping Ranger Tillis MacCrory solve the case is 72-year-old Esbeth Waters, a tough-yet-tender Texas dame who gives tours at the winery and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Hall’s vivid portrait of the dysfunctional Castles and their disgruntled staff is peppered with interesting tidbits about wine making and Texas lore. Gorgeous scenery, memorable characters, and plenty of suspense—as spicy as a Texas merlot. Jenny McLarin
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