Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review: The Man Who Wasn't There by Judy Nedry

Judy Nedry returns to her vineyard roots in The Man Who Wasn’t There, the third book in her Emma Golden mystery series. Emma is a feisty, sometimes grumpy, free-lance writer who – as happens with amateur sleuths – stumbles across a dead body and gets pulled into solving the mystery. In this case, it is more like the dead body stumbles on Emma, and that is the charm of Nedry’s cozy-with-an-edge series – it doesn’t follow every expected pattern.

Emma, for instance, is no spring chicken, but she’s no Miss Marple, pottering about and then solving the crime because the killer reminded her of the vicar’s dentist before the last war. Emma is right there in the middle of things, invited or not, often with a wisecrack, sometimes with a grumble. She complains about little annoyances, struggles as an alcoholic in recovery, and squabbles with her best friend and sidekick, B&B owner Melody Wyatt. It’s like watching someone you actually know crack the case.

Here, the case involves the violent death of a venerable Oregon winery owner at a wine festival Salmon Bake dinner. James Ryder dies shortly after his loud and public fistfight with Max Weatherman, a Nevada developer trying to build a water-hogging resort and spa uphill from Ryder’s vineyards. When Weatherman disappears, he’s the natural suspect in Ryder’s murder, but Emma and her posse think there’s more to the story.

Nedry, who wrote about Northwest wines for over 20 years and who co-founded what became Chehalem Winery, knows winemaking and Oregon wine country right down to the red dirt of the Dundee Hills. She laces the story with information about grape growing, winemaking, and the wine industry just enough to add local interest and individuality without being pedantic. And she brings a sense of place to the story, from the opening scenes at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, to winding back roads through a patchwork of vineyards, to panoramic views of Oregon’s Coast Range. The Man Who Wasn’t There is a mystery that shows it terroir to full advantage.


Read my author interview of Judy Nedry here.


Oregon Wine Press
Kings River Life Magazine
Great Northwest Wine
Home for Book Lovers

If you would like your review of any of Judy Nedry's Emma Golden books listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

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