Book Review: Nose, by James Conaway

To view a complete list of all the books I have reviewed on The Academic Wino, visit my Wine Book Library page and browse!

The book I present to you today, Nose by James Conaway, is quite a change from the majority of books I’ve had land on my desk these past few years.  I purchased my copy of Nose during the 2013 North American Wine Blogger’s Conference in Penticton, British Columbia, where I was able to meet Mr. Conaway and listen to his keynote speech related to wine writing.  It has taken me quite some time to get to this book, as my pile is always growing larger, but I knew I’d get to it eventually!

To purchase Nose by James Conaway, you may do so by visiting by clicking on this link. *affiliate link*

Similar to Vertical by Rex Pickett, Nose by James Conaway is a novel; a far change from the nonfiction usually presented on this blog.  I suppose fiction books with a focus on wine are not nearly as common as nonfiction, but alas, it is a welcome change and is needed from time to time.  In fact, it was a very welcome change to my recent flight to Mexico, as I find it more difficult to concentrate on more technical books when my brain begins the shift to vacation mode.

It took me a little extra time in the beginning to really get into the book, as with most novels, it takes a few chapters to introduce and develop each character, a style of writing/reading that I sadly don’t get to enjoy too frequently.  Conaway took no time to get things going, however, as the book opens with some steamy action that had me all hot and bothered wondering if I’d picked up the wrong book — if you know what I mean.

Nose by James Conaway can be described as part mystery, part romance, and even part comedy.  After the initial character development, the book became quite the page-turner for me.  Clyde Craven-Jones (CJ), the character that is most akin to Robert Parker in the real world, puts out a regular publication reviewing wines from all around the globe, using his famous 20-point system.  The focal mystery of this book occurs when an unlabeled bottle arrived at CJ’s doorstep and after tasting received a perfect 20 point score.  CJ’s wife, Claire, decided to hire a private investigator to find out where this bottle came from and to give proper credit where credit was due.

Copyright R. Yeamans 2014

Copyright R. Yeamans 2014

Cue Les Breeden, a small time journalist-cum-private investigator with very little wine experience.  One wonders how in the world this unknown guy is going to figure out this mystery, but together with some new friends, some hardcore hands-on education at the local wine bar, Glass Act, and an anonymous gossipy wine blog, the mystery of the unknown perfect bottle of wine may not have been so out of reach for our “hero”.

Toss in some family drama, not-so-neighborly conduct, a little romance, and a untimely suspicious death (I had to read this part again to make sure that it actually happened since I was so shocked), Nose by James Conaway is great entertainment for anyone interested in wine, though I will say it would probably be more enjoyable to those that are familiar with the at-times incestual drama of the local wine industry as well as those that are or know a wine writer or wine blogger.  Being a wine blogger-hope-to-be-referred-to-someday-as-writer, I found myself relating to certain characters at certain times, and when I could not relate, I could think of a few of my friends and colleagues that would fit the bill.

Overall, I felt as though Nose by James Conaway was a really fun read, and perfect for my flight to Mexico, as well as lying out on the sunny beach.  Sometimes one really needs to be entertained for the sake of pure entertainment, and this book surely hit the Nose on the head (pun intended).

To purchase Nose by James Conaway, you may do so by visiting by clicking on this link. *affiliate link*

2 comments for “Book Review: Nose, by James Conaway

  1. March 13, 2014 at 3:20 am

    I love reading books too, especially when I’m travelling or waiting for someone. Every Tuesday my daughter has been attending her violin class for 2 hours and while waiting for her I always have my book with me. I just finished reading The Forbidden Book by Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro.

  2. March 15, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Thanks Becca. Glad you liked the book and that it made the flight to Mexico better. Best, Jim

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