A Respite in Provence

Lavender field and Mont Ventoux. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The dark, dank atmosphere of England, Scotland, and Scandinavia lends itself to wonderful mysteries to savor. Such mystery masters like Peter Robinson, Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, Deborah Crombie, Mark Billingham, Peter Lovesey, Camilla Lackberg, Tana French and Adrian McKinty are breathtaking in their ability to grab you by your lapels and not let go until the bitter end.

But, sometimes, one longs for pure, unadulterated enjoyment, complete with fine food and wine, served up with the suspense. It’s then that you only need to find the sunny climes of the south of France to romp through with Peter Mayle as your guide. Mayle first burst on the scene with A Year in Provence, his nonfiction rendering about being an expat in France with all its hilarious trials and tribulations. It shot up international bestseller lists for weeks on end and provided travelers from all over the world with an excuse to visit in droves.

Mayle’s genius is his ability to love his adopted country tongue-in-cheek. Still, the celebrated French culinary and gustatory delights, its staggeringly beautiful vistas, and elegant people strut their stuff through Mayle’s easy prose style. Start with two stand-alone mysteries, Anything Considered or Chasing Cezanne, both published in 1997 so only available now in e-book formats.  The books are characterized by madcap characters and wild chases revolving around the truffle trade in Anything Considered, and priceless paintings in Chasing Cezanne. Then, when the weather around here has you longing for blue skies and pristine ocean views, tackle his Caper series, featuring American detective Sam Levitt, and his beautiful girlfriend, Elena. They feature prominently and solve cases inventively in The Vintage Caper, The Marseille Caper, The Corsican Caper and The Diamond Caper. There is always a bit of romance, lots of French culture and cuisine, lavish descriptions of the lives of the rich and famous, and oh yes, a mystery to solve.

So, this fall, take an armchair journey to the south of France with Peter Mayle’s exquisite descriptions and fun plots. You will be so glad you did.

~posted by Diane C.

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