Death in Provence by Serena Kent
Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Mystery, Cosy Crime
When Penelope Kite swaps her humdrum life in Surrey for a picturesque farmhouse in the south of France, she imagines a simple life of long lunches and chilled rosé . . . What she doesn’t imagine is the dead body floating in her swimming pool.
Convinced that the victim suffered more than a drunken accident, Penelope plunges headlong into local intrigue and long-simmering resentments to uncover the truth.
But with a meddling estate agent, an unfriendly Chief of Police, a suspiciously charming Mayor, and the endless temptation of that second pain au chocolat, life in the delightful village of St Merlot is certainly never simple. . .
Curl up and escape to the sunshine of Provence with this deliciously entertaining mystery!
Penelope Kite is a 50 year old retired divorcee, and after years of being at everyone’s beck and call she decides to start a new life by purchasing an old house in the south of France. The house is gorgeous but in need of many renovations, but Penelope is up for this challenge. She’s happy – until she finds a body floating in her swimming pool! Penelope soon finds out that there is more to this death as initially supposed and with police that’s not so willing to cooperate, she has to use her skills she’s learnt as a former forensic pathologist’s assistant. Who did it? And why? Is it something bigger, as there are also few attempts on Penelope’s life?
The characters were really well – rounded, though I must admit it took me time to get used to Penelope. I’m not sure why, I had problems to get into the book and to warm to her character though there is really no particular reason why – it’s just one of those things. There were, however, very many characters, and till the end I had problems to match them, to know who is who and why and if they’re the baddies or the good ones, if they’re significant to the plot or they’re only mentioned because they just fit in to the scene. But they were also very well rounded and quirky, for example the drop – dead gorgeous mayor, Penelope’s larger than life best friend Frankie who takes no prisoners and Madame Valencourt, with her brilliant diet tips. Penelope was mature, she was smart and sassy and I admired her willpower and she was really brave to drop everything like this and move to another country.
The mystery was really well tackled, and it was full of surprises. There were twists that I haven’t seen coming and to be honest, I have suspected probably all of the characters throughout the whole story. I think I don’t have to mention the fact that I didn’t guess who was the perpetrator even though, now when I look in retrospective, there were enough clever hints and tips from the author on the way. My bad.
Serena Kent’s writing style is incredibly inviting and vivid. The book is set in the south of France, Provence, just like the title suggests, and the descriptions of the places, people and food were picturesque. She has managed to also reflect the spirit of the French villagers, to capture their personalities and mentality in such a realistic, true to life way. She easily brought to life the town, the landscapes, the croissants and characters. On the other hand, those many, many detailed descriptions slowed down the reading for me a little and there were moments that I had a feeling that nothing’s happening actually, that we’re there to admire the setting, and it also felt repetitive, with the repetitions of what has happened, what we’ve discovered and how far in the investigation is.
Altogether, “Death in Provence” was a really cosy read, light and breezy. It was humorous and I really liked the characters’ sense of humour. There was this real French vibe to it and writing style was so warm and inviting – I am already looking towards Serena Kent’s next book!
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