Book Review: A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones

Posted January 3, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
Genres: Mystery, Cozy, Detective
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 27, 2021
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark, First Grave on the Right, The Dirt on Ninth Grave, Third Grave Dead Ahead, Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave, Summoned to Thirteenth Grave, A Bad Day for Sunshine

Second in the Sunshine Vicram cozy, detective mystery series and revolving around the small, cozy town of Del Sol, New Mexico. The focus is on the recently elected sheriff and her daughter, Aurora. It’s been four months since A Bad Day for Sunshine, 1.

My Take

Oh, lordy! I do love this series. Snark reigns supreme throughout! I especially adore the interaction between Sunshine and her daughter, lol. She’s danged lucky she’s living so close to her parents who can be instant babysitters, although they are suffering from Aurora Dawn Blindness, a nontransferable medical condition.

Laughter abounds with the epigrams at the start of the chapters:

“Did you accidentally go shopping on an empty stomach and are now the proud owner of aisle 4?”

“If you refer to your librarian as your dealer, this is the place for you.” (Sign at Del Sol Public Library)

I need this sign in my kitchen: “Many have eaten here. Few have died”.

Everything we know is through third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Sunshine’s and Aurora’s perspectives. I kind of wish we’d had Cruz’s perspective as well. God knows he deserves it! And I wish Jones had provided more tension with that one.

Oh, lord! Lololololol, wait’ll you hear the start of the stories about Mr Penis and Ms Vagina. A great way to embarrass your kids, lol. Jones does a nice balance between Auri and Cruz dating, keeping Mom’s philosophy in mind about the Devil’s Doorbell and normal hormones. Be sure to read Cruz’s poem at the end — it was absolutely beautiful. I’m thinking of writing it out as an affirmation.

Quince is definitely a crack-up of a character. He’s totally confident in himself and makes a great sidekick for Sunshine professionally and personally. I do have to wonder, though, about his issue with Randy raccoon. Poetry, yeah, that guy. Too funny in a very sad way, and I do like that he fits right in, lol. Ya gotta love the rest of Sunshine’s deputies too. They work well together and have a great sense of humor.

Jones does a great job of summing up Clay Ravinder’s character: “as warm and caring as a pit viper”. It makes sense that Sunshine and Clay’s niece, Hailey, would be such a vicious, hateful person — except for that whole undercover bit. I’m not sure why Jones ignores Jimmy’s issues that she noted in A Bad Day for Sunshine. I thought Jimmy and his interactions with Aurora added depth.

I dunno. It must be some kind of violation of rights, as Sunshine keeps arresting Levi. I suspect a good bit of that is Sunshine’s frustration with Levi’s reserve. Talk about pride getting in the way. Okay, okay, so they each have a sort of good reason to hold back, but . . . geez!

As for the mayor, sneaky woman. It was a clever ploy on her part about the town accounts.

Okay, it’s been a dry spell for Sunshine, dating-wise — those blind dates do NOT count. So the whole scene with Sun and Quince deciding to go for it . . . omigod, lol. Nicely done, *more laughter*.

Ya know, I can appreciate Aurora’s desire to do good, but she definitely has some growing up to do. Oy. It does tie in with all the comments family and friends make about Sunshine’s wild childhood, lol. What goes around, comes around.

Yeah, there’s a bit in here that made me cry. It’s so unfair. Fortunately, there are plenty of laughs. It’s exciting, too, with rescues, chases, brutal fights, spelunking, solving some cold cases, ambushes, and so much more.

Oh, man, I have to wait a whole year for the next installment, A Hard Day for a Hangover.

Hmmm, one can be honorable . . . and still lie. What can I say? If you enjoy a mystery and love to laugh, get this.

The Story

It’s not encouraging, Mom and Dad keep setting Sunshine up with these weird blind dates — the breatharian life coach, the exterminator, the multiple confessions, Levi’s stubbornness, raccoon shenanigans, and those memory flashes striking at the worst times.

Worse still is Aurora solving crimes on her own and perpetuating yet more crime! As for Levi Ravinder, Sunshine is torn between the evidence pointing to the local distiller and the crush she has on him.

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.

The Characters

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram, a former police detective with the Santa Fe PD had an amazing clearance rate, was mysteriously elected four months ago. Aurora Dawn “Auri” Vicram, a.k.a. Red, is her fourteen-year-old juvenile delinquent daughter. Cyrus, former military intelligence, and Elaine Freyr are Sunshine’s supportive parents.

Cruz De los Santos is a fellow student and Auri’s boyfriend. His father, Chris, is a good mechanic and deaf. Philip had been Chris’ foster dad. Sybil St Aubin is Auri’s best friend (A Bad Day for Sunshine).

Levi Ravinder is . . .
. . . the head of the Ravinder family (and the best tracker in the state) pulling them away from the Southern Mafia, via the changes he’s making with Dark River Shine, their famous corn whiskey distillery. Sunshine is also madly in love with him and fighting it for all she’s worth. Hailey is Levi’s sister; Jimmy is her son. The Roadhouse Bar and Grill is owned by the entire Ravinder family with Levi owning a controlling interest. It’s run by uncle Clay and a couple of Ravinder cousins. Kubrick “the Brick” Ravinder‘s body was found in A Bad Day for Sunshine, which revealed a truth to Sunshine about her kidnapping fifteen years ago. Uncle Wynn is on an extended vacation with the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, Arizona, where he’s a shot caller. Joshua Ravinder, Brick’s son, confesses too.

Keith Seabright is former special ops and prefers to live off the grid with his nephew, Eli. Nancy Danforth, a forensic pathologist, had been Sunshine’s best friend (after Quincy) in Santa Fe.

Del Sol Sheriff’s Department
The gorgeous, refrigerator-sized Chief Deputy Quincy Cooper is Sunshine’s best friend since kindergarten. Other deputies include Tricia Salazar; Zee, who is an amazing sniper (Quincy’s “twin”); and, Poetry Rojas is the new guy (A Bad Day for Sunshine). Anita Escobar is their brilliant, gets-things-done administrative assistant and dispatcher.

Bo Britton had been one of the deputies until events in A Bad Day for Sunshine revealed the truth. Royce Womack had been the sheriff back when Sun had been abducted. These days he’s running RISE, a rehabilitation program. Judge Gowan isn’t a big fan of Sunshine’s. Baldwin Redding had been the sheriff of Del Sol and wants back in. Seems his son takes after him. Wilcox is a DEA agent. Campbell Scott had been a sheriff in Del Sol decades ago.

Toby is an EMT. Big Red is the fire truck in town. It’s yellow. Mayor Donna Lomas is blackmailing Sunshine.

Mrs Fairborn lives in an old boarding house and loves to confess to everything. Mortimer is her deceased husband. Caffeine-Wah is a coffee shop owned by more friends, Richard and Ricky (of the eyeliner trick!) Ike and Ida Madrid just got married and now share Puff Daddy, Ida’s prize rooster. Bernadette owns Swirls-n-Curls. Juana owns Tia Juana’s, Sun’s favorite Mexican restaurant. Doug is the local flasher. Mrs Papadeaux is not thrilled by Doug’s assets. Mr Chavez is Quincy’s neighbor and has a barn. Mr Walden has selective memory and runs the Quick-Mart where Lottie is a cashier. Crystal Meth is a witness to the fight. Madame Magdalena is the local cat lady — nineteen and counting. Ruby Moore‘s muffins are “deadly”. Hey, Chastity Bertram‘s mother slipped a disc. Beatrice Morales‘ cousin broke both legs and her arms. The Book Nook. Ernie works at the Adobe Oven.

The Dangerous Daughters are a local myth of movers and shakers. And we find out about the Sordid Sons.

Santa Fe PD
Detective Ronald Aranda has the case involving Adam Kent’s disappearance.

The disappearance of Elliot Kent had been Sunshine’s first case as a detective in Santa Fe. A failure. Matthew and Addison Kent are/were his parents; he was convicted of a Ponzi scheme. Adam was born after Elliot’s disappearance. Harold is Adam’s turtle.

Carver Zuckerman is a pest exterminator, owner and operator of the Creepy Crawler Critter Control, who had tried to tame a jellyfish named Loki. Jay Johnson was next on the list. The Delmar family is interested in the missing money. Hercules Holmes was a drifter suspected of being a serial killer. Team Lynelle are a group of rabid, back-biting high schoolers out to get Aurora (A Bad Day for Sunshine). Billy Press owns a car dealership in Amarillo, Texas.

Randy is a raccoon. Peter Bailey had been a grade school bully. Ryan Spalding had been a jerk in high school. Ramses Rojas is Poetry’s twin brother. Jacobs is the principal at the high school. Book Babes Book Club, Mom’s book club, is fierce and includes Wanda Oxley and Darlene Tapia, Poetry’s honorary aunt.

Virginia Bagwell had been a frontierswoman and explorer, Emily Press was fleeing an abusive uncle, Eugene Cosgrove had been a steelworker, Martin Gallegos was looking for work, and Darren Honeywell was no real loss.

The Cover and Title

The cover is quite cheery with its white background and a gigantic crystal (wine) bowl holding yellow chardonnay. At the very top is an info blurb with the author’s name below it; both are in a lime green. At the top of the wine glass with its shattered lip, the title begins in a grassy green until the last word ends up in the wine itself. At the very bottom of the glass is a testimonial in white with a deep brown background of desert with a coyote stalking across it, framed by cacti on the sides and a deeper yellow green forming a skyline of butte and mountain.

Yep, the title is right for good reasons and unwelcome ones, making it A Good Day for Chardonnay.

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