If you like strong characterization, Death in a Wine Dark Sea, is the book for you. It's a page-turning mystery as well, with twists and turns to keep you wondering what's going on, and mostly the story avoids those dreaded "No, don't go in there you idiot" moments we all hate. I truly enjoyed this book.
The main character is Jean Applequist, a character sure to strike a chord with mystery novel fans. She isn't a cop or a detective. Jean is a writer for a wine magazine (like the author). I can't vouch for the wine descriptions because I'm not an expert but they certainly sound authoritative. When Jean gets involved in trying to solve a murder, she uses the techniques she has read about in all the mysteries she reads. She's one of us! I loved this aspect of the character.
We can't really identify with Jean, though, because she is a very sexy, "built," silver-haired bombshell who is a tad promiscuous. She got her first gray hair at something like 20, and now loves her silver hair which makes her unique. She also has a group of fascinating friends who have her back no matter what. Great characters.
Another character you'll love is Zeppo, a sort of geeky young man with a mysterious past who lusts after Jean but turns out to be a really good guy, and a good detective.
The story begins with her friend's wedding on the groom's yacht under the Golden Gate Bridge at night. Jean doesn't like the groom but her friend is happy. Then the groom somehow goes overboard. Jean sees him floundering in the water and throws him a life preserver. Everyone assumes he's dead. Later he calls home. He's alive! Even later, the police pull his body out of the water. This time he's dead for good. What a story. I loved it.
Please get a copy of Death in a Wine Dark Sea for a great summer read.