Brianna Soloski's Reviews > The Vintage Caper

The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
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Oct 03, 10

bookshelves: fiction
Read from September 24 to October 03, 2010

The Vintage Caper – Peter Mayle

The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle is one of those books I picked up on a whim (I’ve been doing that a lot lately), but it hooked me right from the start. Mr. Mayle’s writing style is simplistic, but rich in detail. He manages to leave a lot to the imagination, though, which is good. I want to question what I’m reading and create my own images in my mind about what the author left out.

Taking place in Los Angeles and France the story centers around a wine collector, Danny Roth, and the robbery of his three million dollar collection of fancy wines. Danny is the sort of person who feels he is entitled to whatever his heart desires whenever his heart desires it. While he is away for Christmas with his wife, the caretaker of his home, Rafael aids two unknown men in stealing hundreds of bottles of wine from the cellar. When Danny and his wife, Michelle came home from their holiday they discover that Rafael has disappeared right along with the wine. In a panic, he immediately calls the police and demands to know what they are going to do to help him, feeling that because he donates to the police department he is deserving of special treatment. Unfortunately, this is not going to be the case because the police have no leads on the case. His insurance agent, Elena, isn’t much help either when she refuses to cut him a check immediately. She tries to reason with him and explains they have to investigate the case thoroughly before any money can be given to him.

Elena puts her ex-boyfriend, Sam, on the case (since he used to be an ex-con). After exhausting his contacts in Los Angeles, he heads to Paris and Bordeaux to see what he can find there. This is when things start to pick up. He is put in touch with Sophie Costes, who will serve as his guide while he is in France. They go on a whirlwind tour through the chateaus of Bordeaux trying to find the missing wines, but hit a dead end at nearly every turn. Finally, at one of the chateaus the owner mentions that someone was there recently looking for some of the same wines that are missing. He shares the man’s information, which leads to a meeting with Francis Reboul, who is well-known in France for his wine collection. Sam and Sophie hope that they can get into his cellar and find the missing wines. I would like to note here that Sam has also just gotten word that people believe the robbery is an inside job, spearheaded by Danny for the attention. Although, I’m not sure why Danny would feel he needs more attention after the article that appeared about him in the LA Times.

Inevitably the missing wines are found and a plan is set in motion to get them out of Reboul’s cellar. I assume, although it’s not mentioned, that the wines will eventually be returned to Danny Roth. I can’t write much without completely spoiling the book, but the plan goes off without a hitch. The ending was totally unexpected and I didn’t see it coming at all. For me, that’s the sign of a great piece of literature – something that keeps me guessing the entire time and surprises me at the end (even though I’m totally guilty of reading the end of a book before I officially start reading it).

One other thing I really liked about this book was the relationships. Sure, Sam got paired with a beautiful woman while he was in France working on the case, but there was never any indication that he wanted to be anything beyond friends with her, even though it’s not immediately mentioned that she is engaged. I liked that they were able to work together in a professional manner. I never felt like they should hook up – Sam was there on business and they had a job to do. That is not to say that something couldn’t have happened between them anyway.

I really enjoyed Mr. Mayle’s writing style and look forward to reading more of his works. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and/or loves France and wine, but you certainly don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy this book – everything is explained throughout the book and the descriptions are rich in detail.

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09/24/2010 page 14
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