The Vintage Caper

Reading Peter Mayle’s latest book is like slowly sipping a glass of really good wine. The action is slow for a detective novel, but the flavors are exquisite.

A lover of fine wine, good food, and anything French, former crook turned detective Sam Levitt, is easy to follow as he meanders through France  in search of wine stolen from a wealthy LA wine collector.  Where else would you look for stolen bordeaux but in Bordeaux?

The reader can almost taste and smell the meals, always accompanied by the wine – and the seafood in Marseilles sounds as good as Julia Child’s tasty descriptions in My Life in France.

But it’s not all about the food; it’s about the wine.  And Levitt, with his new sidekick Sophie, a French beauty who doubles as dinner companion and fellow sleuth (gorgeous but Sam already has a girlfriend), rev the action into second gear but not until about the middle of the book.

Even if you don’t know the difference between a bottle of two buck Chuck and a ’53 Lafite, the chase for the stolen wine is satisfying.  And you will learn a lot about French wine along the way.

If you like to drink in your detective novels with a slow read, and not chug them; if you like Mayle’s style – ala A Year in Provence; if you can stay awake through the wine headache – you might enjoy this read.  As much as I tried not to, I couldn’t keep from going back to The Vintage Caper. The ending is not what you’d predict – a good sign for a full-bodied detective story.