I can tell by some of the comments on the last three posts that I’ve spread the story too thin, put in too many twists, and lost some of you, so here is a quick, simple synopsis of Copper’s story to date:
Daze of Wine & Murder
Chianti Sangiovese is about to preside over her first Bacchanal Festival. She is a novice bacchante who just finished her formal training as a priestess — training she underwent only to please her long time lover, Stephen. However, while Chianti was away at training, Stephen met and married another woman.
Chianti, enraged, plans to murder Stephen at the Bacchanal Festival. Instead, Stephen drugs and poisons Chianti, who, just before passing out, recognizes Stephen’s new wife as the woman who sold her the poison she’d planned to use on Stephen.
As the sun rises, police Detective Vincent Copper assesses the murder scene where apparently everyone who attended the party has died from some kind of poisoning except Janice Wheeler, aka Chianti Sangiovese. Two previous Bacchanal Festivals had ended with all attendees dead — 162 people in all — and Copper dreams about each of them every time he sleeps. Janice Wheeler is the only living witness to the last minutes of the Bacchanal. She is rushed to the hospital ICU and put under guard — though Copper has not yet decided if she is a victim or a suspect. Copper also has a hunch that there may have been more than one set of criminals and one crime perpetrated that night.
Copper checks in with his police chief and then goes to the hospital to make certain Janice Wheeler arrived safely and is under guard. He encounters the ICU Charge Nurse, Melinda Spanner, who challenges his right to make command decisions in her ICU.
Copper went from ICU to the forensics lab, where he learned that Janice had been sedated and then poisoned, and remained alive only because the two chemical agents counteracted each other. Copper also learned that at the first two Bacchanals, there were 18 identical bottles of poisoned wine, and the poison in every bottle was the same. However, at the third Bacchanal, the one they were hoping Janice Wheeler aka Chianti Sangiovese could shed some light on, there were three different types of poison in three different types of wine. This made Copper even more suspicious and he began to wonder if he was dealing with the original murderer and a copy cat murderer — and he suspects Janice is the copy cat.
Copper also learned that an unidentified set of fingerprints — probably male — were found on the Bacchanal Priestess’ goblet, and a bottle of Vidussi Schioppettino 2004 wine. Both the wine in the goblet and the wine in the bottle contained traces of Prozac, which was one of the drugs Janice Wheeler overdosed on. Martin Creedence, the lead CSI assigned to the case, tells Copper he believes there were two Bacchante Priestesses at the festival, and that one of them left alive. Credence believes this because Janice Wheeler did not drink the ceremonial wine laced with Xanax, but all the other revelers had — therefore someone else had to have blessed the wine and lead the ceremony, but not one of dead bore the distinct tattoo of a Bacchanal Priestess.
In the forensics lab Marty notices Copper’s nervousness and asks him why he’s a murder detective if corpses bother him. Copper confesses that he has nightmares about the victims of his unsolved cases. Finally, as he’s leaving forensics and feeling grateful that the press hasn’t gotten wind of the murders yet, Officer Marsh catches up to him to report that the Chief of Police and several uniformed officers are at the hospital directing crowd control, and the local newspaper is proclaiming the mass murders far and wide under the headline, Sublunary Killer Strikes Again.
Copper sleeps and dreams of the murder victims. They accuse him of not working to avenge their murders.
No drunken revelers were actually killed in the writing of this story
(though a few readers may have perished from boredom.)