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The first entry in a clever, lighthearted mystery series set in modern Provence—a delightful blend of Agatha Christie and Peter Mayle—featuring the irrepressible Penelope Kite, a young-at-heart divorcee with a knack for stumbling across dead bodies.
It’s love at first sight when Penelope Kite sees Le Chant d’Eau—The Song of Water—the stone farmhouse tucked high in the hills above the Luberon valley, complete with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. For years, Penelope put her unfaithful ex-husband and her ungrateful stepchildren first. Since taking early retirement from her job in forensics at the Home Office in England, she’s been an unpaid babysitter and chauffeur for her grandchildren. Now, she’s going to start living for herself. Though her dream house needs major renovations, Penelope impulsively buys the property and moves to St. Merlot.
But Penelope’s daydreams of an adventurous life in Provence didn’t include finding a corpse floating face down in her swimming pool. The discovery of the dead man plunges her headlong into a Provençal stew of intrigue and lingering resentments simmering beneath the deceptively sunny village. Having worked in the forensics office, Penelope knows a thing or two about murder investigations. To find answers, she must carefully navigate between her seemingly ubiquitous, supercilious (and enviably chic) estate agent, the disdainful chief of police, and the devilishly handsome mayor—even as she finds herself tempted by all the delicacies the region has to offer. Thank goodness her old friend Frankie is just a flight away . . . and that Penelope is not quite as naïve as her new neighbors in St. Merlot believe.
Set against the exquisite backdrop of Provence, steeped in history, atmosphere, and secrets, Death in Provence introduces an irresistible heroine and a delightful new mystery series.
Peter Mayle fans will enjoy this first novel and series opener from the pseudonymous Kent, an English husband-and-wife writing team. Penelope Kite, a divorc e and former assistant to a Home Office medical examiner, decides on impulse to buy a run-down farmhouse in St. Merlot, high in the hills of Provence's Luberon Valley. Penelope soon gets an expatriate's crash course in the history of St. Merlot, family rivalries, and occasionally inscrutable French customs. When the village drunkard, who greets her with a tirade claiming ownership of her house, winds up dead in her swimming pool, Penelope and the local police plunge into parallel investigations. Her experience in forensics from her Home Office job comes in handy. The cast of characters includes agreeable, occasionally shrewd Proven al natives, a forceful English best friend, and an effortlessly chic Parisian real estate agent. Kent provides loving descriptions of food, wine, and weather, and though the resolution is telegraphed a bit, this series is off to an amiable start.