A review of Nectar of the Gods by Gwen C. Watkins

Reviewed by Paul Kane

Nectar of the Gods
By Gwen C. Watkins
No Exit Press
Paperback: 352 pages, 10 October 2008, ISBN-13: 978-1842432495

Nectar of the Gods, Gwen C. Watkins’s debut novel, delivers a formidable kick.

A mystery set in the world of the wine industry, it centres on a cover-up in the production of a celebrated wine, leading in due course to a couple of suspicious deaths. With admirably irrefragable logic, this author has realized early on that critics (and reviewers) make good victims in whodunits; a lot of people will have a motive to kill them.

Unusually, Watkins’s protagonist, Sarah Bennett, is a business-woman, rather than the standard PI or cop. And the milieu of the wine industry is well used. We learn a lot, in particular, about the travails that a small or medium-sized enterprise must endure when they come up against a big corporate outfit.

The action takes place in the US and Australia and, throughout, Sarah must cope with intrigue, danger and unsavoury shenanigans; and she is ably assisted in this by her uncle, Bernie McDermott (incidentally, he is a cop). Yet our heroine still finds time for a spot of romance. There is light and shade here.

And the novel is graced with convincing characterisation and vivid detail to match the escalating suspense. Essentially, mind, Watkins gives us a grand feat of storytelling; and after a ride that takes in plenty of diverting incident, myriad twists and turns, and a denouement deftly concealed, we are left with an open-ended ending.

If you are looking for an entertaining mystery, look no further. Nectar of the Gods is a sparkling brew. It hits.

About the reviewer:Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com