Winetasting is a fabulous pastime, but some moments just don’t lend themselves to visiting a winery. One good substitute that we enjoy? Tucking into a good book. Sometime, though, a bit of wine can play a role in the book, as it does in the new novel “Dragonvine.”
We previously read and enjoyed Steven Laine’s previous book “Root Cause” so we were thrilled to receive a review copy of his next novel called “Dragonvine.” Once again, wine played a major role in the the story.
The book gets off briskly, as protagonist Carmine has his world turned upside down in every way. Everywhere he looked there is a crisis — his family, his career path, his finances — all swirling around him faster than a tight Bordeaux in a sommelier’s glass. Chapters jump from the present time to ancient China and back in a dizzying and intriguing sequence. Rival gangs, clashing palace factions, competing Federal agencies, how can these disparate threads end up woven into a wine-soaked tapestry? Once again, Steven Laine has set a wide-ranging thriller against a backdrop of wine and winemaking that all leads to a finish to be savored, like a spicy Lodi Zinfandel.
The author keeps the story rooted in wine with frequent bon mots like “Not my vintage, I’m afraid. He looked recently disgorged” when referring to an interaction with a villain and “He was drunk with gratitude” when something positive happened to Carmine. The family winery and the arduous process of harvesting, pressing, and producing wine serves as a backdrop for much of the plot advancement, so this can also be considered a fun part of your wine education.
So as summer is upon us, pour yourself a chilled glass of rosé, find a comfortable recliner pool-side, and enjoy sipping your way through centuries and across continents of winemaking and intrigue with “Dragonvine”.
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?