by Darynda Jones
Series: Sunshine Vicram #2
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
I really vacillated between 4.5 and 5 stars with this one. Overall, I loved the book from start to finish, and that last .5 of a star is really nit-picky personal tastes.
A Good Day for Chardonnay picks up where A Bad Day for Sunshine leaves off with a multi-story arc surrounding the mystery of Sunshine Vicram’s abduction when she was a teen-ager. It also introduced too new parallel plots: Sunshine’s investigation of an apparent bar fight gone bad involving her romantic interest, Levi, and a cold case discovered by her daughter in the attic (in the form of newspaper clippings) surrounding the unsolved disappearances of several transients that took place decades previously. There’s also a racoon wreaking havoc, a blind date gone bad, and another multi-story arc concerning Levi’s family.
There’s a lot going on, but this is Jones’ forte. She excels at writing fast-paced, multi-plot stories told with a lot of humour and only slightly less heart. After reading almost 20 of her titles, I can say while I didn’t love all of them, I was never, ever bored by any of them.
This particular book though, was amongst the best. Good mysteries, yes. Humor, yes. But this book was also an emotional roller coaster at the end; between the events of Sunshine’s daughter Auri and her friends coming to a rather explosive climax, and Sunshine’s life-long mystery coming to a satisfying conclusion, a tissue (or three) were required during the reading of this book.
Why didn’t I end up going the full 5? I was aggravated with the last page; the story ended WAY too abruptly. And Auri’s storyline. I really like Auri, and Cruz and love Auri and Cruz together as a team, but her story line was, perhaps, a tiny bit too precocious. It was handled realistically, in the sense that, IF teenagers in real life were to decide to take it upon themselves to investigate a cold case involving a serial killer, it’s easy to imagine they’d go about the same way Auri did. But as much as I like Auri, Jones walks a razor fine edge between Auri being likeable and Auri being cloyingly sweet and earnest. Her selflessness is not entirely realistic, and I can’t say I wouldn’t skim her story where I to re-read this.
And re-read it I shall, because it’s going to be a long year, or however long it takes, before the next book. And I already can’t wait.