Twisted Vines: A Shakespeare in the Vineyard Mystery
by Carole Price
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432826024
Date: 15 August 2012
When Caitlyn Pepper inherits property in California from an aunt she never knew she had, she ends up dealing with arson, temperamental actors, and murder. Royal Tanner, RT, a Navy Seal, believes her aunt Tasha was killed and possibly her uncle too. The more Cait learns, the more suspects she uncovers. Then, her life is threatened.
A crime analyst for the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department, Cait takes a leave of absence to investigate her inheritance of a vineyard and a small Shakespearean theater complex. Her aunt, once an actress, wanted to establish a festival similar to the Oregon Shakespearean Festival. Cait knows nothing about acting, theater productions, or vineyards. She relies heavily on Rachel Cross, a close friend of her aunt and a fellow actor, and on RT.
Initially torn between her job and her inheritance, Cait thinks the two weeks of her vacation will be sufficient to dispose of the property and get on with her life. However, her attraction to RT and to her aunt's projects grows. She takes an open-ended leave of absence to sort out things.
The large theater her aunt had been building was partially destroyed by fire and was being rebuilt. Another fire occurs, and the fire chief tells Cait it's arson. Her aunt's lawyer, Stanton Lane, suggests perhaps environmentalists did it.
As RT and Cait look for clues to her aunt's death, someone shoots a load of buckshot at Cait. When they discover a shotgun is missing from the theater props, anyone with access is suspect.
Plenty of suspects surface. The taciturn ex-con who worked for her aunt and is a computer guru avoids Cait. His past and his secretive nature make him a suspect. After she learns her aunt was to be appointed associate director for the Oregon Shakespeaken festival's production of Hamlet, the suspect list grows. Even her aunt's lawyer comes under suspicion.
As Cait uses her skills as police officer to solve the questions about the deaths of her relatives, surprises and danger awaits her and RT. She also learns her own history was not what she had thought.
Price is an accomplished writer and provides enough excitement and twist to hold the reader until the end. Many readers will be surprised at the solution. Price plans further novels related to the Shakespearean theater.