A modern perspective on a murder mystery.
Instead of a sleuthing detective, hobbyist or pathologist, in this story a television producer hides evidence while he finds the real killer. The murder happened four years previously, and a documentary series in the style of the BBC's programmes Rough Justice, the show points at the convicted murderer's innocence and he is released from prison. Almost immediately a very similar murder happens again, casting doubt on this overturned sentence.
Only, the television front man isn't sure of his original views and sets about finding out whether the murderer is the original killer, whether there is a copycat or something completely different. At odds with the investigating police, the rural residents of the accused and a host of others, he tries to keep one step ahead of the killer/s, the police and the television station without making an idiot of himself or breaking the law. Well, not too much.
This is an original debut novel set in Australia. The protagonist has his own issues and has to deal with several aspects of guilt. The 'vines' from the title refer to the growing of grapes (where the body was found) and highlights the wine-growing industry, the competition and economy. All interesting stuff and new to me.
The plot is sound but it doesn't always flow well, and it is a little muddled and bitty in places thus losing the pace. The characters are quite rounded and sympathetic. But the significant feature of this book is the power of the media, how it can sway opinion and at speed. Very much of our time and the growing trend and popularity of the true-crime documentary, this book gives us plenty to think about. A story about guilt in all its guises.
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 25 July 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.