I don’t usually do book reviews. In fact, until recently I very rarely did books full stop. But now armed with my Kindle, Audiobooks subscription, and fast filling book case I’m starting to see the joy of the written word. It worked out pretty well then when the PR team from Turner Publishers (no relation) asked if I could review a new wine-based thriller.
The book is Root Cause by Steven Laine, and I was given one of the uncorrected proofs to have a read through.
I’m going to avoid as many spoilers as possible here. Main idea of the book is a (beautiful and recently single-ish) flying winemaker called Corvina teams up with a slightly arrogant (but devilishly handsome and clever) wine industry bod called Brian. Together they are tasked with investigating the spread of a genetically modified strain of phylloxera, an aphid that devastated the vineyards of the world in the 1880s. Fast forward to the 2010s and this new strain is resistant to the only known cure. Who’s spreading it and why? How can it be stopped? Can they do it in time to prevent a collapse of the world’s wine industry?
Steven Laine has clearly made a big effort in this book. With the structure and style of the sentences and the individual chapters, this is a man who’s taken a creative writing course and actually bothered to listen. I felt it flowed really well for the most part, and I could actually picture the characters and the settings throughout. There are also recurring themes that keep you pondering, such as Corvina’s slightly strange obsession with neck scarves, and how are these two completely immune to jetlag?!
It’s also clearly well researched. Steven knows his eggs, with clear descriptions of often-complex wine industry “speak”. Writing a book like this means that you’ll often have to walk the tight rope on the information provided. I have to admit that there are occasional passages where it goes too far and becomes a “here’s what I know” section rather than part of the plot, but that’s bound to happen once or twice in a book with this subject matter. It’s something you’ll notice rather than something that’ll put you off reading the book.
Plot twists take our heroes all over the globe and keep the book going at pace all the way to the end and you can’t say fairer than that, especially for the guy’s first book.
Is this going to be in the Penguin Classics in 50 years time? No.
Is this a fun, easy flowing read for a wine lover to read on holiday? Absolutely. Go check it out online…