Death in a Wine Dark Sea – Lisa King

Death in a Wine Dark Sea – Lisa KingTitle: Death in a Wine Dark Sea by Lisa King
Publishing Info: June 20, 2012 by The Permanent Press
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 16, 2012

    Though she despises the groom, Jean Applequist boards an elegant yacht in San Francisco Bay for the wedding of her good friend Diane and wealthy real estate developer Martin Wingo. But things go terribly wrong: the evening ends in tragedy, not celebration when, after exchanging vows, Wingo disappears into the bay.
Diane asks Jean to investigate Martin's murder out of fear that the police will uncover too many of his secrets. Jean agrees, but discovers it's not easy to find out who killed a blackmailer and womanizer. The list of potential suspects is long. When Jean joins forces with the young and geeky Zeppo, Martin's former assistant who is armed with the details of MArtin's victims elicits strong reactions - from fear to rage to attempted murder - that endanger them both, and force Jean to fight for her life - twice.

Breaking It Down Further: When Martin Wingo is murdered on his wedding day, amateur sleuth Jean Applequist takes on the case along with Wingo’s former right hand man, geeky red-head Jay Zeppetello (“Zeppo”). As the best friend of the newly widowed Diane Wingo, Jean is determined to solve the case of Martin’s murder and protect the names of her friends before they all become suspects. Along the way, Jean gets in a little too over her head and soon she has to watch her back at all times for fear that Martin’s former enemies know that she’s the one digging up their secrets.


Well, it was a good mystery — There was a plethora of suspects, all with good motives, and I never was able to tack down who the real culprit was until the reveal. It all came together in the end, but I’m still not sure I like the way it was solved because it seemed a bit out of character, in my opinion. I guess that is one way to keep us guessing though!

I’m not sure what it was — maybe not enough action in the first half of the book? — but it wasn’t until about halfway in that I really got interested and started flipping the pages quickly. I can tell when I’m finally getting excited about what’s happening because I start skipping over details to find out what happened, and that didn’t really happen until closer to the end of the book.

The big thing for me was that I didn’t really like the characters. Jean is a very independent woman in the sense that she doesn’t need any man to be her support. She’s got great self-esteem and a killer curvy body, so she’s used to advances from men and she knows how to get what she wants out of them. What I didn’t like is that Jean sort of seemed like the stereotypical sexed-up male role. I didn’t like that if Jean’s character were a male, I think most people would really dislike him. She’s not into dating or marriage, doesn’t want to have children, blows off her boyfriend, cheats on her boyfriend, sleeps with whoever she wants to (frequently without consequences), and since she’s a woman, it’s “empowering”. There was a reference to how she’s cheated on Peter multiple times and he forgave her for that but still wanted to be with her. Just my personal opinion, but I can’t stand a habitual cheater and it really lowered my opinion of Jean. I liked her confidence and that she was empowered by her sexuality, but overall, just didn’t agree with a lot of her choices.

Then we got thrown into the weirdest romance I could have pulled out of this book – Jean and Zeppo start hooking up and somehow fit together great. I just didn’t see any kind of chemistry between them — With Jean being a prematurely gray-haired, curvy and full bodied 32-year-old and Zeppo being a six foot five, red-headed geek with thick glasses and braces… What!? It just totally threw me off and I was weirded out by it. If anyone’s a Survivor fan (which I happen to be), even though the height and body type was off, I kept picturing Cochran (this guy). So yeah. That didn’t work out well in my mind. Also, too many of the main characters seemed like “characters” — Too many attributes to make them stand out when their personalities should come through. I saw another review out there that said there were too many stereotypical characters and I kind of have to agree.

With the exception of a slow start for me, the mystery really started to pick and and I started to change my mind about the book a little bit. I had a rating in mind when I first started but then I started to get more interested in the book and it really changed my opinion. The only thing about the writing that really bothered me was a bit of repetition. The thing that I remember most is although it’s mentioned a couple times throughout the novel, it was overkill in the first couple of chapters that Jean knows about crimes and detective work because she reads mysteries. That was her answer to a lot of her knowledge and I just felt like it was one mention right after the other and it really stuck in my mind.

I just realized the review sounds pretty harsh and I’m not trying to beat up this book… There were a lot of things that really stuck out that kind of put a frown on my face. I’m really glad it picked up in the end and that the mystery really was a mystery until the reveal.


3.5/5 stars
It started off as a 3 and plateaued for a while, but then the mystery brought it back up to 3.5 for me

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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