Midwest Book Review

The Concrete Vineyard blends politics with a cozy mystery as it covers the murder of a retired history professor in a small-town vineyard.

Edward Mitchell just put his mansion, the most revered historic estate in Niagara-on-the-Lake, up for sale. Most likely, his death was somehow connected to that move. Or, was it?

Homicide detective Bryan Dee is not keen about his job or its challenges. He just wants to close the case; especially since circumstances look to be clear-cut. But he knows nothing about property sales and taps his old friend Kris Gage, an urban planner who has just returned to his home town to help his parents, to help him understand the issues that seem to be connected to the murder.

When he discovers that Kris also has unexpected links to the event, the plot—and the town’s relationships—thickens.

What begins as a murder investigation turns into a question of friendship, trust, and motive as Bryan edges closer to a truth he really doesn’t want to confront.

What does all this have to do with Canada’s 150th birthday and the War of 1812? Plenty; because apparently it’s a battle being re-fought not just in the town, but on Bryan’s own turf. And it’s already turned deadly.

Cam Lang provides an absorbing story which nicely juxtaposes mystery and confrontation with small-town pleasures such as boating on the water. His use of the first person helps capture Kris’s observations and experiences, using a warm tone that involves readers in not just his life, but the politics and milieu of the changing community around him. The story is rich in descriptions and insights.

Readers of cozy mysteries who enjoy social and political community commentary added into the intrigue will find The Concrete Vineyard just the ticket. It’s an engrossing story of how development challenges, changes, and threatens long-held values and different generations.

More than just a whodunit murder mystery, this tale of community influence and change will keep readers thinking long after the problem comes to a head, offering insights into development and historic precedent that are thought-provoking and engrossing in and of themselves. The mystery becomes not just part of the cake, but adds an intense flavor to the frosting, as well.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

March 8, 2021