Lovable rogue and sleuth extraordinaire Sam Levitt is back in another beguiling, as-only-Peter-Mayle-can-write-it romp through the South of France.
At the end of The Vintage Caper, Sam had just carried off a staggering feat of derring-do in the heart of Bordeaux, infiltrating the ranks of the French elite to rescue a stolen, priceless wine collection. With the questionable legality of the adventure—and the threat of some very powerful enemies!—Sam thought it’d be a while before he returned to France, especially with the charms of the beautiful Elena Morales to keep him in Los Angeles.
But when the immensely wealthy Francis Reboul—the victim of Sam’s last heist but someone who knows talent when he sees it—asks our hero to take a job in Marseille, it’s impossible for Sam and Elena to resist the possibility of further excitement . . . to say nothing of the pleasures of the region. Soon the two are enjoying the coastal sunshine and the delectable food and wine for which Marseille is known. Yet as a competition over Marseille’s valuable waterfront grows more hotly disputed, Sam, representing Reboul, finds himself in the middle of an increasingly intrigue-ridden and dangerous real-estate grab, with thuggish gangsters on one side and sharklike developers on the other.
Will Sam survive this caper unscathed? Will he live to enjoy another bowl of bouillabaisse? All will be revealed—with luck, savvy, and a lot of help from Sam’s friends—in the novel’s wonderfully satisfying climax.
Mayle (A Year in Provence) sends readers on a breezy excursion to southern France's least appreciated city in this entertaining crime novel filled with amiable digressions into the history, cuisine, and local culture of Marseille. Los Angelino sleuth Sam Levitt returns for his second foray into the dark side of finance and real estate development in Provence's scruffy metropolis, offering breezy opinions on bouillabaisse, the countryside, and the region's centuries-old distrust of Parisians, amid talk of fine wines and underhanded deals. Sam and his girlfriend, Elena, insinuate themselves into a scheme to give their billionaire client, Francois Reboul, familiar to fans of Mayle's The Vintage Caper, a leg up in the proposed waterfront development, sidestepping the decades-long enmity of Jerome Patrimonio, head of the selection committee and Reboul's bitter rival. It's a genial, lighthearted piece of skullduggery that wends its way forward with appealing, authentic local color, until the main competitor for the development, the brutish, one-dimensional British tycoon, Lord Wapping, ups the stakes with a bit of heavy-handed kidnapping. Mayle's cast of fondly crafted characters mobilize the capering elements of the title as the adventure comes to a satisfactory conclusion. 100,000 announced first printing.
We need more books like this!
Though it does not have the hyper sex and violence found in most movies of today it would make an excellent movie or a TV series. Excitement, food, beautiful people and a travelogue to boot. I can't wait for the next book.
Not a good year
I've enjoyed mayle's books in the past. While they aren't great works, I find them to be wonderful escapist vacation reading. Here he uses pretty girls, French food, high living and scenery to carry the otherwise unremarkable story. These gratuitous flourishes weren't enough to keep my interest, though I did finish the book. Mayle is capable of much better writing than this. Read his other books, but do not waste your time with this one. He really should be a little ashamed of himself.