I'm pleased to welcome Nadine Nettmann to the blog today. Nadine writes the Sommelier Mystery series. Decanting a Murder, the first book in the series, was released earlier this month.
Kathy: Your character is studying to be a sommelier. Why choose this profession for your series?
NN: There are so many details sommeliers need to know about wine and geography and I thought it would be fun to have a protagonist who used that information to solve a mystery. It also helped in writing the series that I’m a Certified Sommelier and love wine. It made the book really fun to write which hopefully shows in the writing.
Kathy: I enjoy wine, visit many wineries, and have even attended wine tasting classes. While my palate is pretty good it isn't anywhere near that of a sommelier. How did you develop your own palate?
NN: I’ve always been very sensitive to spicy food and strong flavors so while I think I had an edge, it really comes down to learning and training your palate. While studying for my sommelier exams, I would walk through the grocery store and smell different fruits, training my brain to identify the scent of blueberries, cranberries, etc. I was also fortunate to join a blind tasting group where we had to identify wines down to region and varietal simply by looking, sniffing, and tasting the wine. Those sessions definitely helped develop and focus my palate.
Kathy: I'm lucky enough to live in the midst of three distinct viticultural regions so I mainly drink these NY state wines. I love the huge variety of Rieslings, but my favorite wine is Gewürztraminer. Do you have a favorite wine?
NN: Excellent choices! I love Gewürztraminer and Riesling. For me, I tend to switch my favorite wines throughout the year. My choices don’t necessarily go along with the seasons, but just what I’m enjoying at that time. I’ve been on a Pinot Grigio kick recently and for red wines, I’ve really been enjoying Cabernet Franc.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
NN: I’ve been a fan of Agatha Christie since I was little and I love reading amateur sleuths. It makes me feel that everyone can solve a mystery.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
NN: I’m currently working on a domestic suspense so although a different genre within mystery, still in the mystery field. I’m a huge fan of mysteries and I don’t think I will ever stray from that world.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
NN: Decanting a Murder is the first book in a wine themed murder mystery series featuring Katie Stillwell, a sommelier who solves mysteries by using her wine skills. Every chapter is paired with a wine.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
NN: I would have to say my main character, Katie Stillwell. I really like that she’s a dedicated friend and a hard worker, but also has a little sass.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
NN: I’ve loved Murder, She Wrote since I was little and I thought it would be fun to have a series similar to that but in the wine world.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
NN: I’ve wanted to be a published author my entire life and though it’s been a long journey, I’m so excited that it’s happening now.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
NN: This is such a fun question! Let’s see, I would choose Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, Daphne DuMaurier, and Stephen King.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
NN: I just finished reading Mary Higgins Clark’s I Heard That Song Before which I loved. I’m a big fan of her work and although this book came out several years ago, I hadn’t read it until now.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
NN: I love decorating cakes for friends and family. It’s so much fun to pipe frosting into designs and working with fondant. I also love playing guitar.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
NN: I drink a lot of tea so I always have plenty of tea and milk. I’m also a huge fan of pickles so there’s definitely always a jar in the pantry. And of course, wine.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
NN: I’m just wrapping up the second book in the series, currently titled Uncorking a Lie which will release in 2017 and I have a third one planned for 2018.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
NN: I love the excitement of writing a first draft when a story pours out of my mind and onto the page.
Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann
The First Sommelier Mystery
Katie Stillwell is a sommelier trying to advance in her most difficult
profession. Invited to an exclusive wine event at an even more exclusive
winery, Katie intends to enjoy the experience and the fine wine. The
festivities have barely begun when a scream shatters the jovial
atmosphere. The owner of the winery has been found dead, stabbed by a
corkscrew and left in a vat of wine. The corkscrew turns out to belong
to Tessa, Katie's flighty friend, a winery employee who invited her to
the tasting...and Tessa cannot be found. Katie owes Tessa and is
determined to use the skills of her profession, and tips her cop father
taught her, to nose out the real killer!
It takes skill and a discerning palate to become a sommelier; to use all your senses to uncover the mystery in the glass. Katie takes these skills to help her friend in this first Sommelier Mystery.
Katie Stillwell is a likable protagonist. She's eminently relatable; someone with whom you'd like to spend time and get to know. She's sassy, but dependable. Her best friend, Tessa, however, is another story. Tessa's erratic and irrational behavior translates to a variety of mental disorders in my book. If that's what the author was going for, she succeeded. Otherwise readers are left with an unstable convoluted character whose behavior doesn't correspond to the action.
The mystery itself is top shelf. Nattmann lays out some red herrings and I was led astray by several characters. As for the details, Nettmann obviously knows her wine. The addition of pairing suggestions at the start of each chapter is a delightful and appreciated touch.
Decanting a Murder is a great start to a new mystery series, an enjoyable read for oenophiles and teetotalers alike. Nettmann is able to bring an elite career down to earth and tell a good story all the while imparting her wisdom and obvious love for the world of wine.
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