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*Starred Review* Totally fun may not the deepest, most original way to describe the pleasure of Britisher Mayle's latest joyous novel set in his adopted homeland, the delightful French region of Provence. But it's an honest description. (His string of best-sellers started, of course, with A Year in Provence, 1990.) This new one brings back American sleuth Sam Levitt, fresh off the wine-theft case presented in The Vintage Caper (2009), this time getting deliciously involved in a development plan for an undeveloped plot of land along the Marseille coast of France. The thing is, one of the three finalists bidding on the development project won't reveal his identity because of past bad feelings between him and the chair of the committee that will choose the winning project. So Sam is being asked to fill in as the presenter to pitch the anonymous contender's plan to the committee. Sound simple? Well, of course, as straightforward as this basic switcheroo may seem on the surface, difficulties arise as competition goes way beyond cutthroat to become potentially fatal. This is sophisticated writing without a snobby tone (and that may be a more satisfactory description). HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A large print run indicates that the publisher is aware of and responsive to the author's great popularity.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist
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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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.