Book Review: The Vintage Caper



By John ~ April 9th, 2010.

A classic “who-dun-it” with an interesting twist at the end, Peter Mayle’s The Vintage Caper is a book you should read, especially if you like to sip a glass of wine as you read crime fiction. This is the first of his twelve books that I’ve read, but I now wish I had read some of the others.

The story revolves around the theft of over $3,000,000 of great vintage Bordeaux wines from the cellar of a big-time, rich, self-absorbed LA entertainment lawyer named Danny Roth. Not satisfied to just own all of this great wine, he needed the ego-satisfaction of others knowing about his great collection, so he arranged for a big spread in the paper about it. Not such a smart move.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long until someone who had read about his collection plotted to relieve him of the biggest gems from his cellar. While Roth and his family were on a holiday vacation, his property caretaker was bribed to let a group posing as an ambulance crew make off with the wine. The rest of the book revolves around the efforts of his insurance carrier to find and recover the stolen wine in order to avoid paying the huge insurance claim.

There is constant tension between the obnoxious Roth and the claims adjuster, Elena Morales, who initially thinks Roth might have arranged the theft himself to collect the insurance money. As the search for the wine and the thief continues, under the direction of former non-violent criminal and Elena love-interest Sam Levitt, the story moves from LA to Paris to Bordeaux and finally to Marseille to the cellar of a rich Frenchman named Reboul.

What happens next, the interesting twist at the end, I’ll save for you to read for yourself. Believe me, you will like it! So pick up a copy of The Vintage Caper today and start reading.

Have you already read The Vintage Caper? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.


Filed under: Wine Books

Reader's Comments

  1. Elizabeth | April 12th, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I am reading the book now and am thoroughly enjoying it. This is not normally my type of read but thought the subject was interesting … can’t go wrong with France and Wine. I did a google on reviews of the book (yes after I started to read it) and found your site.

  2. John | April 12th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Elizabeth,
    Thanks for your comment. It’s not my normal type of book either, but I really liked it.

  3. Chriis | April 21st, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I finished this book yesterday. I picked it up because I’m a fan of anything wine related. But did I miss something while reading this book? What twist in the end? I thought this book was awful. I like the use of wine throughout the story but why was this a caper? There was no suspense, no conflict, no sense of urgency. Anything the characters did they did without resistance. Perhaps I missed something because this book was pointless.

  4. John | April 21st, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Chriis,
    I’m not going to give away the “twist” and ruin it for other readers. We obviously have different tastes in books.

  5. Chris | April 21st, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I would never expect you to give away the “twist” for other readers. Maybe an email just to me would help me understand if I missed something. Also, I understand people have different “tastes” in books but I don’t think my opinion is based on my “taste”. Actually this book fits my “taste” but that doesn’t change the fact that a book that is supposed to be a “caper” has no conflict or suspense in it. Seriously, what real obstacle did any of the characters run into when trying to accomplish any of their plans in the book. Look for other reviews of this book and you will find tons of people who feel the same way about it. People should know this for a fair review. And trust me, I really want to like this book…that is why I’m hoping the “twist” saves it.

  6. John | April 22nd, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Chris,
    I’m still not going to give away the “twist”, but if you read the entire book it came at the end when they discovered who stole the wine but concluded they could probably not retrieve it through the French legal system. What they did then was what I called the “twist” and it certainly got the attention if not the admiration of the guy with the stolen goods.
    As far as other reviews of the book, I’ve purposely not read them because I didn’t want to prejudice my review; the same reason we don’t read other wine reviews on wines we plan to taste and we taste blind.

  7. Chris | April 23rd, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Okay, I understand the “twist” you are refering to. That makes me giggle a bit. I wouldn’t consider that a “twist” but ok. I thought perhaps you were refering to something that was said on the last page that I thought might be a “twist” but I wasn’t sure. So all in all, the main characters accomplished each and every thing they set out to do without any obstacles or conflict. Perhaps this is the most boring caper ever? Now that I know the “twist”, I consider this one of the worst books I have ever read…except of course the detail descriptions of food, wine, and locations which only amuzed me because I’m such a wine nut. With that said though, I really want to read some of Peter Mayle’s other books now…they must be amazing because otherwise I can’t see a publisher ever publishing this book unless the author has an outstanding reputation.
    And just so you know, I didn’t read other peoples’ reviews until I had formed my own. When I did, they only confirmed what I was thinking. But now that your review is finished, perhaps you should take some time to see what other people think of this book. You might find that not as many people will “love” like you say they will.

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