If I were writing my own autobiography, I might have come up with this title, The Charlemagne Connection.

  • Direct descendant of Charlemagne, including his first born Pepin the Short
      • Pepin born from Charlemagne’s first wife, and heir to the throne
  • This genealogy led to Kings of Scot
  • Which lead to the Reverend William Blackstone, who was the first Anglo inhabitant of Boston
    • King James sent him to preach his Bible to the Puritans
    • Instead, he established the first Episcopalian Church in the US
  • Blackstone’s granddaughter Patience married Josiah Clarke
    • Josiah rescued Patience from kidnapping Natives
    • Married him a couple of years later to become Patience Blackstone Clarke
  • Jump six generations to David Clarke, who was on the Beaches of Normandy during WW II
    • Located in Burgundy
    • Returned home and nine months later I was born Jo Clarke

So, I haven’t written it yet; ergo, there goes the title; but it’s just fine by me.

I received two books in the mail from Maryglenn McCombs, representing author R.M. Cartmel. Mr. Cartmel is the author of two books, of wine and crime fiction, set in France.

  1. The Richebourg Affair ~ R.M.’s first mystery novel
  2. The Charlemagne Connection ~ R.M.’S second mystery novel

Considering what I’ve written above, would anyone think that I could actually read them in published order?

I open The Charlemagne Connection first and read: “To David Clark” (no ‘e’ on the Clark; and, of course, purely coincidental)

You helped me immeasurably in the creation of this and The Richebourg Affair. You also made some sensationally good wine, even though we usually drank tea when we met. A la vôtre, [Vosne that is!].

With my father having been to Burgundy, these three underlined items led me right into this wine-based, mystery novel. From the moment I opened this book, I was engrossed, loving The Charlemagne Connection. It’s one of those where it’s really hard to put it down. I’d awaken at 3:00 a.m., and decide to read for a couple more hours, after having taken it to bed with me the night before. It’s that wonderfully written.

And I thank David Clark, too, because he’s guided R.M. with bits of viticulture that I know (from 20+ years in this business called “wine”). However, because of France’s history of wine (imported by the Roman’s when they invaded Western Europe, until Charlemagne drove them back to Italy), the lexicon is so much more rich than what we know in our very new US wine grape growing history, that I learned even more.


This past vintage, I was in a vineyard where the clusters of Pinot noir had varying sizes of grapes on one cluster… from the tiniest of grapes on the rachis, to some fruit the size of peas, some the size of blue berries, and some the size of small table grapes, all on the same cluster. This was the first year I have seen such a melange. Now, just look at how many words it’s taken me to explain this to you. Yet, the French have one word to tell each other about it, and you instantly know the cluster’s condition: millerandage. [This is a word I thankfully learned in this book.]

Stepping away from so many non-fiction writing assignments, it was such a welcomed relief to read The Charlemagne Connection, a police mystery of who-done-it set in Burgundy’s Nuits-Saint-Georges region, because it took me away to France. My French heritage of youth (Bernier and Ouellette, my mother’s side), when my grand and great grandmother spoke only French to me for the first four years of my life, came back to me. I was transported to Maine, where I was born and raised, living there for over 40 years… Many of my family and friends still reside there, with last names like, Jalbert, Gagnon, Pelletier, Dubois, Rossignol, etc. I was able to slowly take each character’s name in this book, and use my two years of high school French to properly pronunciate again… It brought back such joy.

The amount of French culture and viticulture brought forth is magnificent. Through so many intriguing characters, I traveled through Nuits-Saint-Georges and briefly up to Dijon, through R.M.’s eyes and words. R.M spent

If you love fiction and a good mystery, in a far off place that also teaches you a bit about wine grape growing in France, most especially, I highly recommend that you purchase R.M. Cartmel’s novels. He won’t let you down, as the book is hard to put down; and, once ended ~ it, like a really fine wine ~ just lingeringly stays with you as a smooth and silky finish.