The Marseille Caper

Peter Mayle. Knopf, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-307-59419-8
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. Agent: Ernest Chapman. (Nov. 9)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2012
Release date: 11/06/2012
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