Greetings dear readers and friends. Well, if you ever wanted a great summer read to get “lost in Provence” this is it. I’ve been following author Deborah Lawrenson’s blog and novels over the years and was delighted to learn that she’d written – in collaboration with her husband – a murder mystery under the nom de plume, Serena Kent. Death in Provence, the first novel by Ms. Kent, is a fast-paced, thrilling mystery that’s hard to put down.
I made my way through the book over a long weekend, punctuated by a few glasses of rosé, which just happens to be the favorite drink of central character / crime sleuth / heroine Penelope Kite. Madame Kite sets off for the Luberon region of Provence with all of the dreamy expat fantasies that a fortuitous early-retirement can bring. Against the wishes of her skeptical children, she decides to leave her home in England to restore a large, hilltop property with sweeping views of the Luberon valley. Lured by more than just the promise of South-of-France sunshine, Penelope wants the opportunity to do something for herself – even if that something means little more than lounging by the pool, listening to the buzz of the summer cicadas, and waiting for aperitif hour.
Only an unfortunate incident of foul play, which occurs on Penelope’s property, launches her headfirst into the ins and outs of life in a Provençal village. And what a quirky village it is… We’re introduced to a cast of characters which breathe new life into the expression “local color”. We meet a charming, dangerously-handsome mayor whose secret meetings raise eyebrows all over town, a pristine French estate agent who totters around Penelope’s house in fabulously expensive designer shoes and seems to know her every move, and a mysterious neighbor who drinks too much plum wine and has a lingering distrust for foreigners. Penelope’s boisterous and wine-loving friend, Frankie, appears on the scene to lead crime-sleuthing activities, but gets duly sidelined by long South-of-France lunches and never-ending carafes of rosé.
Not only is Death in Provence a great mystery novel, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are just the sort of friends, neighbors, and shopkeepers you’d find in towns and villages around Provence. They are quirky, colorful, and full of heart. In addition to the intrigue that is central to the novel, their witty presence and lively commentary provide a perfect window into life in the South of France.
Death in Provence is currently available as an ebook and will be published in paperback on August 23rd.
Happy reading and wishing you a très bon weekend!