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Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Man Who Wasn’t There By Judy Nedry

by Sandra Murphy

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Emma used to be involved with the wine industry, even co-owning a winery with her now ex-husband. That was before she got a little too fond of the grape. Now she attends AA meetings and finds other ways not just to entertain herself, but to support herself, too.

Going to the Salmon Bake at the International Pinot Noir Celebration brings back a lot of memories. There are too many people at the event, and drinking water while others drink wine—well—it’s for the best, but still…

James Ryder, a long-time friend, is one of Oregon wine country’s pioneers. His vineyard and winery are not just famous in the area, but across the country. He’s getting older, so his youngest daughter, Stephanie, now makes the wine. His older two daughters showed no interest in learning the business. Five years ago they had a falling out with their parents, and have been seldom seen in the area since.

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Lila, James’ wife, is ill. Cancer has returned and while the treatments are promising, it’s wearing. James is angry about a developer who wants to buy and rezone the property above his for use as a fancy resort. Increased traffic, tourists taking selfies in the vineyard, foreign bacteria invading the grapes, waste from the resort flowing downhill, and the fact that there’s no water source there (meaning they’ll tap James’ well), all add up to a disaster in the making.

James and the developer, Max Weatherman, get into a fist fight at the event, more of an embarrassment than a true fight. Still, it’s enough to break the spell of the celebration.

Emma’s had enough of the crowd, so she decides to head back to her friend’s B&B for the night. Of course, drinking bottles of water during the heat means a pit stop on the way. Hoping to find an unoccupied and still clean Porta Potty, she tries the door on one of them, and a man falls out and pins her to the ground.

Image source: BookBaby

Her screams bring help but she wasn’t attacked. James was stabbed, and is still bleeding; he fell on her when the door opened. Death came quickly.

Emma’s been involved in investigations before and vows to stay out of this one. Unfortunately, Emma’s BFF volunteers her to help Lila, and that leads to a few questions, and then…Emma’s in deep before she realizes it. Lila needs a little help around the house—someone to keep her meds straight and make sure she eats. Mostly, she needs help keeping her daughters in check. The vultures are circling before James is even buried. Max has disappeared, thugs and the FBI are looking for him, and Emma just wants to go home.

This is the third book in the series; An Unholy Alliance and The Difficult Sister came first. Emma is a likable character, flawed but not beyond hope, and she has good friends to support her, even if sometimes they forcibly push her past her comfort zone. Information about Oregon’s wine country will make readers want to book their reservations to stay at the B&B.

This is a first-rate read, one that I had to finish in one sitting, it was just that good. Now I have to get books one and two. Hopefully, by then, book four will be ready!

To enter to win a copy of The Man Who Wasn’t There, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Man,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 30, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her newest, "Arthur", included in the anthology titled, Flash and Bang, available now.


  1. This sounds like a fascinating story. On my TBR now. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. A rather startling trip to a portapotty!!! YIKES! et me find out how that happened, please.

  3. Sounds like a good story.