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The Vintage Caper (Sam Levitt #1)

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,138 Ratings  ·  556 Reviews
Set in Hollywood, Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseille, Peter Mayle’s newest and most delightful novel is filled with culinary delights, sumptuous wines, and colorful characters. It’s also a lot of fun.

The story begins high above Los Angeles, at the extravagant home and equally impressive wine cellar of entertainment lawyer Danny Roth. Unfortunately, after inviting the Los Angel
Hardcover, 223 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published 2009)
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Almost French by Sarah TurnbullThe Glow of Paris by Gary ZuercherThe Lollipop Shoes by Joanne HarrisA Year in Provence by Peter MayleEncore Provence by Peter Mayle
I love Paris
29th out of 47 books — 8 voters
Have Mercy on Us All by Fred VargasThe Da Vinci Code by Dan BrownPerfume by Patrick SüskindThe League Of The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska OrczyBruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker
Best Mystery Fiction Set in France
17th out of 42 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 08, 2015 Erin rated it it was ok
Shelves: france, mystery, wine
This is a thin, silly little mystery by Peter Mayle, who has clearly spent so much time drinking wine in Provence that he's forgotten that mysteries normally contain some element of the mysterious. The Vintage Caper offers little mystery. What it does contain are cliches by the boatload (in case you didn't know, every woman in L.A. is gorgeous but stupid and every lawyer is an a-hole) and a story so flimsy it's ridiculous. The characters are empty and uninspired, and if you haven't figured out w ...more
Jan 22, 2010 salinthebay rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction

This takes an explanation because I loved Mayle's Provance series. when a friend passed this book on to me, while vacationing in Southern California, I thought I would give it a try. But, I returned promptly before finishing it. Perhaps it was the LA, California setting where this non-caper takes place, that left me wondering about concepts of warped reality.

I thought his character development was stiff and silly, leaving no mystery or thought provoking challange.
Suggestion: Always stic
Jun 23, 2010 Rhonda rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-fiction, wine
This book, from the author of A Year in Provence and A Good Year (with Russell Crowe driving a Smart Car in France, who could resist the movie?) is a delightful little escapist read about wine. It covers the gamut too, with wine snobs and wine collectors but it always elevates wine to the place it needs to be: being enjoyed in good company without posturing.
There are so many wonderful meals associated, I feel as though I gained ten pounds just reading this. Still it is a quick read and absolute
P.D.R. Lindsay
Mar 24, 2013 P.D.R. Lindsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: pleasant-reads

Famous for his delightful non-fiction, particularly ‘A Year in Provence’ which was, and is, a best seller, (and a charming film with John Thaw performing to his usual brilliant best,) Peter Mayle also writes novels. Well written, easy to read and thoroughly entertaining and amusing novels like ‘Hotel Pastis’ and ‘Anything Considered’. I found them terrific reads, but my favourite was ‘Chasing Cezanne’, that is until his latest, ‘The Vintage Caper’, came out. Peter Mayle has an ease with words an
Iryna Khomchuk
May 11, 2016 Iryna Khomchuk rated it really liked it
Пітер Мейл - це автор, який змушує читача відпочивати. Саме так: змушує. Якою б утомленою я не бралася за його книги, вже кілька десятків сторінок якимось дивним чином розслаблюють мене, відходять на задній план клопоти, зникає напруга, забуваються проблеми, і ти просто мандруєш разом із автором неперевершеною Францією, яку він палко любить, милуєшся пейзажами, насолоджуєшся сонцем, а ще - куштуєш вина та страви, заплющуєш очі від захоплення напоєм, вилизуєш тарілки до останньої краплі соусу на ...more
Dec 07, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: humor-loving, oenophile, Francophiles!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca McNutt
Mar 05, 2016 Rebecca McNutt rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction, france
Not a bad mystery novel, but there wasn't really anything new or overly creative about it. It's a very typical and predictable novel.
Madhulika Liddle
Oct 31, 2014 Madhulika Liddle rated it it was ok
Danny Roth, a highly successful, wealthy—and unpleasant—celebrity lawyer in Los Angeles, has one of California’s most enviable wine cellars: carefully picked, jealously hoarded, worth a few million. Until a newspaper interview, complete with photographs, brings Roth’s wine collection to the notice of the world—including some thieves, who, with the connivance of Roth’s illegal servant, make off with the cream of Roth’s collection. $3 million worth of the most coveted vintages from Bordeaux, vanis ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-light
Do not read this when you are hungry!!! The food descriptions are mouth-watering and if you are a oenophile, you may our yourself a glass while enjoying a light read. When I realized that a friend had let me borrow a book which was the second in a series, I had to get this one out of the library and read first.
Sam Leavitt is a reformed (well sort of) thief and now working with the police on occasion. He is a wine connoisseur and is called in on an insurance investigation of a theft of 3 million
Jul 20, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, 2014
I must have lived in France in a previous life as I have to say that I really enjoyed the setting of the different places in France, the food and most of all, the wine! The author lives there and knows of what he speaks, and it shows. Not much imagination is needed to transport me to that mellow countryside with its vineyards, local population and small cafes along the way. What better place to set this fun mystery? I found the process the protagonists took to be interesting, methodical and a bi ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok
Shelves: pleasure-reading
Meh. I really enjoyed the memoirs that Mayle has written about restoring an old French farmhouse and discovering life in the south of France. But his novels and mysteries really drain a lot of the charm out of his writing. He skims over the amenities, barely mentioning the pleasures of the food or the landscape. Much of what remains comes across as culinary name dropping, just listing the vintages of the wines the narrator enjoys. I've heard that one of my other favorite food writers is turning ...more
Mar 24, 2014 JodiP rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
This book began in a breezy, amusing way, as the character of Danny Roth is revealed as he gets ready for his day. As I listened, I thought, "Well, this isn't going to be deep, but perhaps amusing enough." Unfortunately, that was the highlight of what I read. Another character, an investigator for the insurance company, is introduced and we follow him to Bordeaux. The author spends a fair amount of time explaining to us that even first class air travel isn't much fun. He spends far too much time ...more
Mar 01, 2010 Kevin rated it it was amazing
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Alfred A Knopf Publisher, Copyright 2009

Let me start off by saying I am a fan of Peter Mayle’s work so this is slightly, alright an unabashedly biased review. Now that the transparency has been established, The Vintage Caper is an excellent read. It was perfect for a Snow storm day this past weekend, where as the inches of snow accumulated on the ground, I was safely ensconced in the goings on of Sam Levitt and a his friends from Los Angles to the south of France,
Nov 16, 2015 Alistair rated it it was ok
Shelves: ok-fiction
Unless you love the author or enjoy reading about France, wine and good food, give this book a miss. The title of the book is a misnomer...."Vintage" when talking about wine is reserved for the best and "Caper" often means something is done that is exciting or interesting. None of these words represents what is in the novel. It is boring, no mystery, no caper, no daring do, bland characters, who are not well developed. They just float from breakfast to lunch to dinner and their dialogue is poor. ...more
Les Brown
Jan 14, 2010 Les Brown rated it liked it
Not sure what to make of this book. I've loved Peter's past books so I picked this up and jumped into right away with anticipation.


I came away from it disappointed. I felt that perhaps Peter was a bit lazy with this book. I realize that some of the characters were being re-introduce from previous books, but the character development was very weak. The so called mystery was solved way to easy and neat.

In some regards I felt that the only purpose of this novel was to talk ab
If you expect anything more of this than light caper and heavy gastronomy, you haven't done your homework. Mayle writes with no other purpose than to entertain and to wave the tri-color with unabashed enthusiasm. For a Francophile who loves reading about food and wine almost as much as she does consuming it, this was a pleasant lark. Plot? Bah. Character development? Snort. Believability? Oh, honestly! Who would waste time in the south of France looking for the real world? A world to which I now ...more
Jun 27, 2013 Wren rated it liked it
Detective fiction with a difference from the author who single handedly is purported to have ruined Provence. Mayle knows how to work a stereotype; French women are beautiful and dress well, his detective has a 'past' but his writing outshines his trite story. It was a guilty pleasure to read crime fiction that had absolutely no gore or slasher porn, no swearing and had a slightly socio-political background. An enjoyable summer read, light and like a good rose, leaves one without a headache. The ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a really light mystery, but it was exactly what I was in the mood for. I'm a fan of Peter Mayle so I was familiar with his style and knew what to expect. I suppose the mystery is pretty easy to figure out, but I liked it anyway. There is a bit of romance in the novel, but the way this part unfolded surprised me. The descriptions of food and wine just made me want to run out and eat French food accompanied by the perfect glass of wine. At the end I can say from experience that the book i ...more
Oct 11, 2010 Cynthia rated it liked it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I really enjoyed the first few chapters, but then it got bogged down in the details of fabulous meals and show-offy wine one-upmanship — without irony or even awareness. After a while, I just couldn't stand to read another exquisitely detailed description of another exquisite meal (always with little barbs thrown in about what cultural barbarians the Americans are) with endless snobby, "Only three people in the world even have HEARD of this wine" comments. It made me feel like the author had way ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Cyndi rated it liked it
Everything you wanted to know about wine, and then some.
Erik Moloney
Feb 26, 2015 Erik Moloney rated it really liked it
Set in Hollywood, Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseille, Peter Mayle’s newest and most delightful novel is filled with culinary delights, sumptuous wines, and colorful characters. It’s also a lot of fun.

The story begins high above Los Angeles, at the extravagant home and equally impressive wine cellar of entertainment lawyer Danny Roth. Unfortunately, after inviting the Los Angeles Times to write an extensive profile extolling the liquid treasures of his collection, Roth finds himself the victim of a w
Jun 30, 2013 Simona rated it really liked it
Peter Mayle still has the gift to evoke French atmosphere with just a few words. Wonderful descriptions of food, wine, landscape. It was definitely not one of Mayle's best but it was such a fast funny entertaining read. If not for the subject (light mystery tale), you should read this book for mouth-watering descriptions of French food and wine! Perfect for vacation!
Feb 07, 2016 Wolfgang rated it liked it
Peter Mayle still has the gift to evoke French atmosphere with just a few words. Wonderful descriptions of food, wine, landscape. A great example from this book is the scene where a journalist meets a police officer at a bar and they celebrate a Ricard and olives while pushing the plot of the book a little further. Want to take a French vacation while reading a light mystery? Peter Mayle's books are for you.

Now, there is a problem with this latest book. Peter knows too well which buttons to push
Aug 10, 2010 kellyn rated it liked it
Easy listening for a long drive. Not too complicated story line or characters, but incredibly descriptive and detailed information about the main character and his surroundings whether California or France, amazing food and of course, wine and it's history, composition and place in current culture.
Ruth Feiertag
Aug 22, 2015 Ruth Feiertag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, general-lit, fun
*The Vintage Caper* is another work of charm and temptation by Peter Mayle. Detective Sam Levitt eats and drinks his way through Marseilles to solve the theft of five hundred bottles of rare wine belonging to an obnoxious Hollywood collector. The mystery is less the point of the novel than an excuse to write about life in southern France and to introduce us to some engaging characters. There are some nice little twists — the victim is more villainous than the perpetrator of the heist —but deligh ...more
Oct 20, 2010 Laila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable. Forgettable. Peter Mayle is no mystery writer but it's cute and certainly the descriptions of Marseilles and some of the food and wine are acceptable reasons to pass a Sunday afternoon with this novel.
Oct 01, 2014 Leigh rated it really liked it
This is a very pleasant book. The plot was fun, the characters were lively if somewhat unbelievable in true Mayle style, and the end was enjoyable. I read it on trains from Budapest to Florence, and it was a marvelously entertaining companion.

It's not a hard hitter and you don't have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy the intricacies of the story, but it will make you want to sit with a good wine, some stinky cheese, and laugh at the antics Mayle presents.

I didn't give it four stars mainly beca
Glencoe Public Library
Set in Hollywood, Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseille, Mayle's newest tale begins in Hollywood, at the expensive home--and impressive wine cellar--of lawyer Danny Roth, who has found himself the victim of a world-class wine heist. Sam Levitt, former corporate lawyer, wine connoisseur, and expert on cultivated crime, is called in by Roth's insurance company to unravel the ingenious crime. The solution involves travel to Bordeaux and Provence, a lovely French colleague and loads of fabulous food, wine ...more
Bruce Retallack
Nov 24, 2015 Bruce Retallack rated it it was ok
I don't usually mind light easy reads, but I found this one just too thin on too many fronts. The writing itself is nice enough. But the plot is too light and predictable to sustain the novel, the 'breakthroughs' way too contrived ("I know, I can't find it in LA, so I'll go to France and look there!") reminds me in a way of Doug Adams' "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency". That book, however, had the saving grace of intending to be silly and unbelievable.
And finally, the characters are way
Jan 13, 2016 Georg'ann rated it liked it
As another Goodreads reviewer said, I did not read this for the mystery. I read it to have a sweet little read about, well, wine. and France. All written in a way that did not make me cringe. (and yes, I am sure you could find things to criticize about the writing) Perfect for what I wanted: a quick, pleasant read while on a weekend trip. I love France, and I was glad that Mayle did not disappoint - you end up in Marseille before it is over. If you want a mystery, this is not for you (suspense? ...more
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Peter Mayle (born June 14, 1939 in Brighton) is a British author famous for his series of books detailing life in Provence, France. He spent fifteen years in advertising before leaving the business in 1975 to write educational books, including a series on sex education for children and young people. In 1989, A Year in Provence was published and became an international bestseller. His books have be ...more
More about Peter Mayle...

Other Books in the Series

Sam Levitt (4 books)
  • The Marseille Caper
  • The Corsican Caper
  • The Diamond Caper

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