Muder Alfresco Review
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Down through my many years of reading, I’ve come across plenty of favorite amateur sleuths—Nancy Drew, Ellie Haskell, Stephanie Plum, and now Sunny McCoskey.

In Nadia Gordon’s Murder Alfresco, Sunny McCoskey leaves a party early, deciding to walk home alone in the dark. She’s tired, and she has to get up early to run her restaurant, but she doesn’t want to bother her boyfriend to take her home. As she passes the Vedana Vineyard, she notices a truck pulling out without its headlights on. After the truck disappears in the dark, Sunny sees something hanging from a tree—something that looks suspiciously like a body.

Tied up in a form of Japanese bondage, Heidi Romero is left to send a subtle message—but no one has a clue as to what the message is or who it’s for. Sunny goes back to her restaurant, Wildside, and tries to forget about Heidi, but she can’t—so she does some investigating on her own. As Sunny gets closer to unveiling the killer, she puts herself into more danger than she might be able to handle.

Despite the fact that I have no interest in food except for eating it—and I have no interest in wine at all—I still thoroughly enjoyed Murder Alfresco. I didn’t really see why a restaurant owner would suddenly decide to investigate a murder, but somehow Ms. Gordon makes it work in a plausible way. I could even relate to the characters living in the Napa Valley. They’re ordinary people, trying to make a living and find time for some innocent fun in their lives. As I read about them, I longed to join them at the table when they’d dine together on Friday nights.

Murder Alfresco is a modern, down-to-earth, sophisticated mystery with bits of humor splashed throughout—which helps to ease the seriousness of the storyline. I really hadn’t expected to love the Sunny McCoskey Napa Valley mysteries, but I was pleasantly surprised, and now I plan to pick up Ms. Gordon’s earlier releases, plus any of her future Sunny McCoskey novels.

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