Book review and giveaway: Cognac Conspiracies – I love France #133

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Cognac Conspiracies


Cognac Conspiracies cover

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
Cognac Conspiracies
Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN
translated by Sally Pane
PublisherLe French Book
Pub. Date:
February 18, 2015

ISBNs: 9781939474339 (ebook)

9781939474322 (trade paperback)
9781939474346 (hardcover)

First published in French:
Dernier coup de Jarnac, Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris

Pages:  140
Genre:  Whodunit / Cozy mystery / Detective
Source: Received
from the publisher for a
virtual book tour on France Book Tours


This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

2015 ebook my-kind-of-mystery-2015 2015 Translation

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I am back with “The Winemaker Detective series of cozy mysteries”, for its 5th book: after Bordeaux and Burgundy, we are now with another great French wine: Cognac Conspiracies.

The eau-de-vie business was already existing and doing well in Jarnac at the time of Napoleon, with the family Lavoisier. But now with bad economy and fierce Chinese competition ready to buy the shares, things are not going well for Marie-France, at the head of the company, and her two brothers.

The Chinese investment group has hired the Cooker firm to audit the business and see what it’s really worth. Benjamin Cooker is an internationally respected wine expert, and when he approaches the Lavoisiers with his assistant Virgile, he finds rather shady people. Things don’t seem right in the family relationships.
Benjamin has enough of all this and is ready to leave the case, especially when he discovers Sheila, a former
lives nearby.
But Virgile is persistant and wants to clarify what’s really going on, as one more tragedy touches that family.

I enjoyed the plot, or rater the plots, and how they end up interconnecting.

Characters are also evolving along the series: Benjamin still loves quoting the classics, but he is maybe closer to burn out and lets his guard down, which he would not have done earlier on. Whereas Virgile is maturing in his job and attention to details.

And of course, like in the other books of the series, what’s really neat is the description of the region and information on the wine. The passages about the cognac, its making and its multiple aromas and scents was really fabulous! Too bad the ebook does not come with a sample!
The financial background is also key and so relevant, as many French wines, especially in the Bordeaux region, are indeed bought up by Chinese companies.

NB: The French title has a nice play on words: Dernier coup de Jarnac. Un coup de Jarnac is an unexpected blow, and Jarnac is also the name of the real city where the story takes place.

VERDICT: Shady characters and great wine join for a new adventure in company of wine expert detective Benjamin. Reconnecting with your past may lead you to unexpected mysteries and dramas.


 The heirs to one of the oldest Cognac estates in France face a hostile takeover by foreign investors. Renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to audit the books. In what he thought was a sleepy provincial town, he is stonewalled, crosses paths with his first love, and stands up to high-level state officials keen on controlling the buyout. Meanwhile, irresistible Virgile mingles with the local population until a drowning changes the stakes.




©David Nakache

The authors of the Winemaker Detective series, are Epicures.
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and TV journalist
when he is not writing novels in southwestern France.
He is the grandson of a winemaker
and exhibits a real passion for wine and wine making.
For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine.
He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective,
which he coauthors with Noël Balen.
Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing,
making records, and lecturing on music.
He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books
about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.


Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage.  Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at Colorado University Boulder.  She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset.  She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena.  She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.
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Have you read any other good mystery focusing on wine?



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23 thoughts on “Book review and giveaway: Cognac Conspiracies – I love France #133

  1. Pingback: France Book Tours stops for Feb 15-20 | France Book Tours

  2. Pingback: Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen on Tour: Cognac Conspiracies | France Book Tours

  3. Pingback: 2015 Ebook Reading Challenge | Words And Peace

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  8. Emma, I am currently reading The Little Paris Bookshop
    by Nina George from Netgalley. You might like it.Jean Perdu has a bookshop on a barge, docked in Paris . After learning about what happened to a lost love from long ago, he sets sail along the canals of France, along with a young, bestselling author, who has writer’s block.They have many adventures along the way.


  9. Pingback: Cognac Conspiracies: Tour quotations | France Book Tours

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