Executive Times






2008 Book Reviews


The Bordeaux Betrayal by Ellen Crosby




(Mildly Recommended)




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The latest of Ellen Crosby’s wine country mysteries is titled, The Bordeaux Betrayal. Protagonist Lucie Montgomery uncovers scandal as she investigates a murder. Like the earlier books in this series, The Bordeaux Betrayal is heavy on formula, and is easy and comforting to read. The characters continue to be more one-dimensional than most readers would prefer. Here’s an excerpt, from the beginning of Chapter 2, pp. 17-18:


I didn't expect the water to be so cold, nor the current so strong. Fortunately the creek was only knee-deep where her car had gone in and I could use my cane to keep steady against the swiftly flow­ing water.

I called her name as I looked through the passenger window, but she didn't stir. The car was full of water as high as the creek level. The noise as it rushed through the open windows roared in my ears. Near Valerie's body it was a pale shade of pink and my stom­ach churned some more.

I guessed that her car must have rolled like a barrel down the embankment head first because the roof was crushed in at the windshield and her airbag had been deployed, meaning the front end had struck something solid. A faint gunpowder odor still per­meated the air inside the car. So far Valerie's face was above water but the caved-in roof—which looked like it was responsible for her injuries—had diminished the interior headroom, leaving little clearance between Valerie and the water level. The ends of her blonde hair, which she'd worn loose, skimmed the surface of the eddying water as did both hands since her arms were now thrown above her head like a supplicant.

I sloshed around to the front of the car, hanging on so I wouldn't slip. At one point the chassis rocked crazily and I let go in a panic. Had it landed on a tree limb or something else that made it so unsteady? Whatever it was, I had to get Valerie out of here—release her from her seat belt and get her to the bank of the creek.

I hung my cane on the side mirror and fought the urge to throw up as I looked through the driver's side window. Valerie's face and hair were blood-soaked and it looked like she'd sustained some injuries on the left side of her chest. Her eyes were closed and she didn't appear to be breathing. I tried to find her carotid artery and my hand came away bloody.

She was dead.

"Oh, God, Valerie," I said to her. "I'm so sorry. I'm getting you out of here, honey. They shouldn't find you looking like a trussed fish."

The collapsed roof had crushed both front doors making them impossible to open. The back doors were locked. I found the unlock button and heard the click releasing all four doors.

Once I undid her seat belt Valerie would drop like a stone straight into the water. I'd have to grab her before she did, then try to pull her out of the car. She was taller than I, and probably weighed about ten pounds more—maybe a hundred and thirty, give or take. Hope­fully I'd be able to carry her, but I wouldn't be able to use my cane. If worse came to worse, I'd have to drag her.

It no longer mattered if her injuries worsened.

The only way to get into the car was through one of the back doors. The frame between the doors on the driver's side was also bent, but not so badly that I couldn't open the back door. I tugged hard on the handle and the car rocked back and forth again.

"Oh, God," I said under my breath. "Please stay where you are." I jerked the door and the motion caused my cane to jump and slip off the side mirror. It dropped in the creek with a graceful plop and immediately caught the current, floating downstream. I started to go after it, then let it go. I'd never catch it.

By now the water in the car was a darker shade of pink, almost cherry-colored. I squeezed between the front seats. If I could get Valerie's seat to recline fully, I could pull her straight back once I released her seat belt, though it meant I needed to do both actions nearly simultaneously and somehow keep my balance in the cramped space.


In some respects, The Bordeaux Betrayal seemed to go down easier than the earlier books, but I still found myself thirsty for better character development and improved dialogue. If you’re looking to read a mystery that doesn’t tax your mind too much, and with a likeable female protagonist, The Bordeaux Betrayal is a good choice to consider.


Steve Hopkins, October 20, 2008



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The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the November 2008 issue of Executive Times


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