Firing Blancs, the third book in the Felix Hart wine buyer series, is just as funny as the first two. It documents Felix’s further adventures as the wine buyer for a large English supermarket chain. The author Peter Stafford-Bow has a great sense of humor and an entertaining writing style. This is a fun book to sit and read in the backyard with a glass of wine.
Disclaimer: The author sent me this book however I did buy the second one when it was first published because I enjoyed the first one so much.
For those who have not read the previous books the first, Corkscrew, told us about Felix’s younger life and his rise from being a sales person in a wine shop to a buyer for a large supermarket chain. In the second book, Brut Force, Felix is now a Minstrel of Wine and at the pinnacle of his profession. He is being blackmailed into participating in a corrupt wine tasting. From there he falls into multiple adventures that include assassins and organic wine buyers. I’ll leave it up to you to read the book and see how those are connected.
In Firing Blancs we find Felix involved with the sudden death of the CEO of Gatesave, the company he works for. He then is essentially exiled to South Africa where he is forced to confront Gatesave’s biggest South African wine supplier for the brutal working conditions in the winery and vineyards. Along with this he is tasked with helping a charitable group try to improve conditions in the townships of South Africa. He is forced to live in the township and help improve a small business that is not completely above board. Felix also gets to try the local delicacy, “Smiley”, and determines what wine pairs well with it. After that he helps develop the wine program at the restaurant in the township and teaches local people to appreciate wine.
From his time in the township he learns what it means to be the suppressed and what he can do to help. He must reform the brutal winery owner and bring him together with the radicals who want to eliminate him. At the same time he must navigate the politics of the township and and prevent a Swedish NGO trying to expose the winery owner. Then there is the problem making sure they are able to pass the audits of the charity supplying the money for the townships business. He is somewhat accepted in the township but never feels completely safe. You continually wonder if he will be successful or is this the end of his career, or life.
The book was so funny I could not get through parts of it because I was laughing so hard. Nancy had to read several pages to me so I could continue.