When northern California’s idyllic Napa Valley is shattered by the vineyard shooting deaths of two men, investigative-reporter-turned-wine-editor Dante Rath seizes the chance to salvage his sagging career.
One of the dead is the winery’s top investor, a high-tech genius, who was shot and killed by the winery’s owner, who in turn was gunned down by Napa County sheriff deputies.
At the murder scene, Dante encounters Carmen Carelli, the lawyer for the deceased investor and whose case files he rifles after sharing wine and other pleasures.
But when Carelli is shot and wounded jogging near her house in Sonoma, Dante knows something deeply sinister is fermenting in wine country.
Doggedly pursuing the story, Dante uncovers fraud, deceit, and a toxic scandal certain to shake the wine world and topple an international wine producer. But he must stay alive to publish the story.
From The Book:
Her panicked voice came over the phone.
“Chao’s attorney! Carelli. She’s been shot!”
“What? … Carelli’s been shot?”
“Yes! Carelli!” Mei said, distraught.
“Where are you?”
“At her office.”
“Sit tight. I’m close by! I’ll be right there.”
His heart pounding, his throat tight, Dante grabbed his sport coat and slipped it on as he bolted from the newsroom. What the hell? How can this be happening?He’d been with Carmen just hours earlier. She can’t be dead! It’s impossible!
Dante ran down Mendocino Avenue, his mind churning with possible scenarios. He darted left at Third Avenue and bolted into the street, dodging a couple of cars that braked to avoid hitting him, drawing angry shouts and honking horns. He cut between two parked cars and ran to the glass doors of the glass and stone building at Old Courthouse Square where Carmen kept her office.
Mei Ling pushed open the building’s lobby door on her way out, her eyes wide with panic, her mouth open in fear. Dante grabbed her by the arms and barked, “Where are you going? Tell me what happened!”
“I don’t know what happened!” she yelled.
“How do you know she’s been shot?” Dante asked.
“I came for my appointment with her at ten this morning,” she said. “Carelli’s secretary was sitting at her desk, sobbing.”
“She said Carelli wouldn’t be coming in, not today, not for a long while.” Mei Ling searched his face, as if trying to find the right words. “She said joggers found her this morning. They thought she was dead. They called 911. They took her to the emergency room.”
Dante ran through the events of the morning. “Did she say where she was found?”
“She’s pretty upset,” Mei said.
Dante wondered whether Carmen had something in her files so valuable and so dangerous that someone would try to kill her for it. “You said she’s been taken to a hospital?”
“They operated on her,” Mei said, fear in her voice.
Shit! Dante figured she’d been taken to the hospital in Sonoma, at least initially. His impulse was to rush there to be with her. But he wasn’t family, and they’d probably not let him into post-op recovery. He could find out details from the cops on the scene and see her later. “I want to see where this happened. Let’s go.”