Blood, Wine & Chocolate by Julie Thomas – 2015

blood-wine-chocolate-julie-thomasBlood, Wine & Chocolate starts in the dangerous world of London gangsters – three boys, Vinnie, Marcus and Tom end up entwined through Marcus being the grandson of the head of the infamous Lane crime family. We are told the boys back-stories and their early encounters. If the story had taken off from there things might have got cracking a bit sooner – but Thomas sticks with the back-story exposition over and over as new characters enter and it makes for a less than flowing read.  We have been told at the outset that killings take place so we know they are coming, and that device works well.  Years pass and Marcus and Tom are now gangsters, Vinnie is just a little bit shady.  But Vinnie witnesses a Lane family ‘hit’ and gives testimony that puts Marcus behind bars.  Vinnie and his family have to enter the witness protection programme and the rest of the novel is their keeping one step ahead of Lane Family vengeance.  First they become vintners on Waiheke Island (a rather high profile cover, but maybe the cops figured they’d be hidden out in the colonies), then they start a high end chocolate enterprise (once again …).  But it is all good fun and Thomas imagines some delicious chocolates and vintages. Despite the momentum suffering from too much exposition, there are some good thrilling moments.

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