A Breezy Summer Read & Passport to the South of France

About 6 months ago, while killing time at the airport, I noticed a beautiful blue book cover calling my name. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a mystery!This is, as you may know, from my Instagram feed, my absolute favorite of all the genres.

I happily handed over $25 for this lovely hardcover (which sells much more reasonably on amazon by the way) and walked away with delighted anticipation. I was now the proud owner of Death In Provence by Serena Kent, and my next few hours of travel were going to be a breeze.

I read that book cover to cover in just a few short days. I just couldn’t get enough and now classify this book as ‘unputdownable’ to all my friends.

I happened to have been to the South of France for a family vacation just the fall prior. Kent’s writing instantly brought me back there. I was hooked, and hungry. The wanderlust folks out there should really consider this as inspirational reading for a visit. Although, I hope you don’t find any dead bodies.

As far as plot, this is a story of a woman named Penelope Kite, seeking a new life in St.Merlot, France. She’s English and very divorced. Her kids are grown and don’t need her much, her waist line is expanding, and to top off the middle age spiral – she falls in love with a dilapidated old house called Le Chant d’Eau (The Song of Water) that requires a zillion dollars and at least three bottles of Rosé to make you purchase it.

St Merlot was a sleepy village at the unfashionable end of the Luberon Valley, but that was its charm. Hidden in the creases of the ridge, the road ascended through Saignon on its rocky outcrop, and then continued to wind into the high folds of the hills.

Penelope finds a body in said home’s dilapidated pool, after she already buys it. Despite that gruesome bit of detail this book remains a breezy sun drenched delight. Penelope turns out to be a very clever amateur sleuth, who with new friends and old helps solve the crime.

From start to finish, I craved Rosé and croissants. The pace was great, the bullets wizzed by just as fast as the pages. As I said. I absolutely love a good whodunit, and wasn’t disappointed.

The entire cast of characters was charmingly amusing, flawed, and sometimes very sparkly. Despite the multiple herrings throughout, I couldn’t crack the case. This to to me is a sign of a mystery well done!

I will offer one word of caution to fellow readers; this story will give you an appetite. Based on my own experiences, everything tastes better in the South of France. The author here is clearly a resident because her intimate descriptions of the food in this story were some of my favorite parts. Probably don’t read this on an empty stomach. You have been warned.

When she asked for bread, the woman at the counter pointed towards the corner of the square. Penelope thanked her and wandered over there, blinking against the brightness. The boulangerie was a narrow yellow building with a few chairs and tables outside under a vine canopy. She bought a golden-crusted baguette and then, on impulse, added a slice of apricot tart to her purchases. It looked so pretty, it was impossible to resist. Penelope could see she was going to have problems here.

Death in Avignon, the second book in the Penelope Kite series is coming out soon. I recommend you catch up quick.

Cozy summer read in the South of France, and a great mystery book recommendation.
A tea, a book, an evening well spent. Image by @a_worm_in_a_book