Brut Force – Peter Stafford-Bow
Felix Hart returns with his swagger and his tongue-in-cheek humour in Brut Force as he takes us on another adventure steeped in wine know-how. He is now lead wine buyer for the largest retail chain in the UK and member of the haloed Wine Minstrels.
Once again Felix has an egotistical, dispassionate and senseless boss. ‘The Doc’/‘The Dick’ (Steve Pendle) has just informed Felix that he needs to double an already extensive stock of Champagne as they head into the Millennium New Year. Felix knows how the demand will perform and this is foolish, but he is left with the choice: don’t buy and get sacked immediately, do buy and get sacked on 2nd January. Not only that but he needs to buy them from Paris-Blois and we learn from the first book they are a powerful global organisation that has some incriminating information held on Felix. As a consequence, they can manipulate and task him with projects they require doing – and not always legal. In this case, they want to ensure their wine is selected as the number one wine in a high-profile tasting event. The tasting event is double-blind and run by someone determined to keep the decision honest and above board. Paris-Blois can’t take the risk of losing and assign Felix, who is elected to the panel to influence the other panel members.
Felix also encounters the beautiful Lily Tremaine as she is undertaking the membership assessments and examinations to join the Wine Minstrels. She seems to have a different impact on Felix than his normal fast and loose approach. At a time when he needs his wits about him, his interests and attention are being drawn in many different directions and for many different reasons. There is a great balance in the writing to manage these plot threads and I felt all the elements are carefully and regularly developed.
The novel is a very enjoyable romp with lots of witty dialogue and crazy encounters. It’s not a book to be taken seriously, as many of the events are far-fetched but the entertainment value is super. It wasn’t as dynamic or funny as Corkscrew, and some of the exploits seemed toned down.
I would recommend this book and I would like to thank Peter Stafford-Bow for providing me with a copy in return for an honest review.