“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock – Thomas Jefferson.”
The motto was on the keychain that belonged to the detective working the death of Edward Mitchell in The Concrete Vineyard. Poor Bryan didn’t really want to be in the police but had decided that it would be a quiet job. Which it was, most of the time. Until Edward Mitchell was murdered.
The Concrete Vineyard is set in Ontario, Canada, close to Niagara Falls. Edward Mitchells is the 91-year old owner of a huge mansion. The mansion has just been put up for sale. Why was Edward murdered, and who did it? Soon after the memorial service, another one of Edward’s friends goes missing. Is there a connection? Bryan is working his way through the mansion, and the many characters that come up in the book. Realtors, dancers, lawyers, shady businessmen…
Cam Lang, the author, is a professional planner, urban designer and development manager. This comes out in the book, and although I have no idea how planning works, this actually made the book very interesting. Amongst the murder and mayhem, there are panning issues, town-building issues, corruption amongst council members and backhanders. It makes the story even more interesting, especially as the detective’s friend is an urban planner. He helps Bryan, the detective, but is he really helping, or is he actually a suspect?
There is quite some detail about food as well, and as this is set in a wine region, there is a lot of talk about vineyards, and what kinds of grapes to grow. Both urban planning and wine growing are new to me, but The Concrete Vineyard was a wonderful tour into new territory. The book was rather long, and I was desperate to know whodunit, but the length of the book didn’t mean it was a boring read. On the contrary! There is a lot of local history woven in and combined with wine, planning and murder, it had me gripped! It’s my favourite kind of learning about new things, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Concrete Vineyard is Cam Lang’s debut novel, and it’s a wonderful way to introduce us all to planning and what goes on behind closed doors in meetings where decisions are made by the 1% who wield the power, according to Cam. I loved the different characters, they were so easy to picture in my mind. I loved the detective, Bryan, and his love for history. I would love more books with him as a character. Not sure how principled he was as an officer, despite the special keyring, haha, but I did enjoy the ending.
I received a free copy of The Concrete Vineyard but was under no obligation or pressure to give a favourable review. These views are my own.