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by Darynda Jones
St Martin's, February 2022
416 pages
ISBN: 1250233119

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Second in the Sunshine Vicram series by Darynda Jones, A GOOD DAY FOR CHARDONNAY opens with a quick, witty scene that sets the tone for most of the book. The novel is filled with fun, humor, and more than a little steamy romance, but Sheriff Sunshine Vicram's life as a small-town sheriff isn't as light and easy as it might first seem. Yes, in the beginning, the town's most notorious criminal is a raccoon, but more serious threats lurk in the past—including Sunshine's own past—and before long, Sunshine is deep in the midst of trying to solve an old murder, a new attempted murder, and her own feelings for a long-time crush who could well be a murderer. Adding to the drama, Sunshine's teenage daughter Auri tries to solve an old serial-murder case and ends up putting her own life and those of her friends in danger, leaving Sunshine trying to save them all.

While most of the novel is a light, fast-paced read, the multiple plots and subplots do have a dark edge that increases the tension and emotion, and the love interests and some unexpected side stories keep it all complicated enough to keep the pages turning. Is it at times a bit overwrought and with just too many coincidences and too much crime for a small town to be entirely believable? Yes, but none of that detracts much from the overall effects of a fun escape with a strong female lead, great relationships among family and friends, and well-crafted characters and storylines. The only real disappointment was the ending, for while almost everything gets fairly well wrapped up, the ending itself was so abrupt you may not even realize the book has ended. It's obvious that Jones has a third book in the series she's priming readers for, but the ending could have been handled better and still left readers anticipating the next novel.

A GOOD DAY FOR CHARDONNAY works well as a stand-alone novel, but those interested in Sunshine Vicram and her supporting cast of characters will probably want to seek out A BAD DAY FOR SUNSHINE.

§ Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, January 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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