The book Death in Provence by Serena Kent (a.k.a. Deborah Lawrenson) offers a fun mystery romp set in France. It centers on Penelope Kite, a British divorcee, who buys an old country house with dreams of renovations and dinner parties but instead finds a dead body in her swimming pool. A former forensics doctor’s assistant, Penny embarks on solving the case of why her neighbor was killed while avoiding being killed herself.
A Cast of Colorful Characters
Early on, we meet Penny’s friend Frankie who, with her loud clothing and vivacious bold personality, swoops in to help investigate the odd behavior by the village locals. She and Penny’s repartee reminded me of the show Absolutely Fabulous and I would have been happy to read a sleuthing Ab Fab pair in Provence. But Frankie departs a third into the book. That was a bit of a disappointment but it soon dissipated as the juicy plot events took over.
Those juicy events unfold because of a French real estate agent named Clémence who keeps us guessing on her intentions. A handsome mayor’s polish may betray his nefarious dealings, we’re not sure. An arrogant police officer thwarts Penny’s discoveries at every turn. Throw in an eccentric farmer and a heavy metal electrician and you’ve got a circus of intriguing questions. Without giving too much away, I’ll say there are good twists and surprises before it all ends.
Narrated With a Quick, Warm Wit
The book’s main appeal is its wit and casual narration. Penny’s inner asides about resisting croissants in the name of her waistline and brief musings about the mayor’s blue eyes make for a girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, which I loved. Also appealing are the descriptions of the French countryside, the quaint villages, the delicious food. Ultimately, Death in Provence is a breezy mystery to remember summer by. It’s nothing too challenging yet certainly something to enjoy, making for a delightful companion as you fly away on your next dream vacation to France.
I’ll be posting an interview with Deborah Lawrenson in the next few weeks, so stay tuned! We’ll be talking books, France, writing, and the best food to indulge in after a long day in Provence.
Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.