Book Review: “Root Cause” a Novel by Steven Laine

I have traveled to many wine-producing countries; New and Old World; Northern and Southern hemisphere, and it is always a pleasure to visit the wineries, speak with the owners about their wines, and getting a tour of the winery and vineyards.  In part, this is what you get to experience with this novel by Steven Laine, a Canadian with a wine background like me, who now works and lives around the world in the hospitality industry.  He is currently the Resident Manager at the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, located in Singapore.  He has experience working in the five-star luxury hotel and restaurant industry.  He studied Hotel Management in Switzerland and has an MBA in Hospitality from the University of Guelph in Canada.  He is currently undertaking his WSET Diploma, which is quite an undertaking; an undertaking that requires one year of dedication to this credential.  I have the WSET Advanced level certification, which is just below the Diploma, that was quite demanding to pass. Kudos to Steven for taking on the Diploma.

I received a copy of Steven’s book to read and review.  As I read through the pages I could tell he was very knowledgeable about the hospitality industry and the wine trade.  Almost every page of this find and chase the villain novel has some industry term or fact that you gain only through experience.  When I began reading Steven’s novel I was unaware of his WSET training, but as I read the novel, so many winemaking and industry terms and information was presented, it made me check.  Some may find that there are many new terms and may need or want to investigate the terms on the web.  For those of you with WSET, ISG or related certification, you may already be familiar with these terms

My Review of “Root Cause”

Root Cause by Steven Laine
Root Cause by Steven Laine

The premise of Root Cause is that someone is spreading a new type of phylloxera louse that attacks grapevine roots, killing the vines.  Phylloxera, originally from North America, spread to Europe through infected vines and/or soil. North American vines are immune to phylloxera, but not the European variety.  The Europen variety almost was wiped out by phylloxera, but was saved by grafting the hardy American rootstock to the European vines.  This happened more than 100 years ago.

Skip forward to today.  There is a new type of phylloxera spreading across Europe, North and South America.  The louse is no longer stopped by American rootstock.  Who or what is spreading this louse?  Why are they spreading it?  Our main character, Corvina Guerra, a flying winemaker with roots in Italy, where her parents own a vineyard, and Spain where she works for a wine agency, attempts to find this out with support from her company, and determine how to stop the louse.  All grapevines from around the world would be affected, and you could end up with a world without wine.  To assist her she reaches out to Brian Lawless, a failed Master of Wine from London to help her.  Together they fly from country to country, around the world to check for infestation, and to see if they can track the clues to who is causing this calamity.  Interpol is also there as this rates as ecoterrorism that can affect the world.  There are many plot twists along the way.

Each chapter is 2-4 pages long, so very easy to read, and is located on a specific location, be it a winery, a city, or a company related to the infestation.  The plot moves quickly, with the author spending significant time talking about the wineries affected, suspects, and the possible effects of a world without wine.  Not as much time is spent on digging too deep into the social interaction or thoughts between our two main characters, and it may leave some wanting to know more about them throughout their journey.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and was able to finish it in a few morning and evening sittings.  I have traveled to many of the locations mentioned in the book, and to the affected Chilean winery.  I could imagine myself there.  If you are a wine geek you would probably enjoy reading about the book and imaging yourself at certain wineries or five-star hotels around the world.  For those without too much wine experience, you may find yourself checking the web for wine terms.  I would not suggest glossing over the wine terms as they can be important the overall understanding and enjoyment of the book.

Dig into the mind of someone who can write and has significant wine and hospitality background; Steven Laine and “Root Cause”.

3.5 stars4 stars

Where Can I Buy “Root Cause”?

I checked on the web and see that Amazon carries the book.

Root Cause on

Root Cause on

Also at Barnes & Noble.

You may also be able to find the book at larger, local bookstores.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.