Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Corsican Caper: Review

Billionaire Francis Reboul has a gorgeous coastal estate that is just perfect for hosting vacationing friends like private investigator Sam Levitt and his lovely lady Elena Morales--as well as hosting an auction benefit for the lovely city of Marseilles. But Reboul isn't the only one who thinks his estate is perfect. Oleg Vronsky, a Russian tycoon, has been cruising up and down the French coastline looking for the villa of his dreams. When his binoculars fill up with the wonders of Le Palais du Pharo, he knows he's found it. He immediately contacts his realtor and tells him he wants it. But Reboul isn't in the market to sell. At any price. 

Unfortunately, the man known as "The Barracuda" isn't used to taking no for an answer and he certainly doesn't intend to start now. Vronsky has contacts in the underworld and he isn't afraid to use them to put pressure on the current owner of his house. And, if it comes down to it, he's prepared to make Reboul disappear in order to create a vacancy. But Vronsky hasn't encountered Sam Levitt before. Nor has he tried any of his under hand tricks amongst the close-knit Corsican community. He's about to find out that neither Sam nor the Corsicans take kindly to his treatment of Francis Reboul.

But don't be misled...just because Sam and Elena are on guard against the machinations of the Russian baddies that doesn't mean this is a tough guy, shoot-em-up story. On the contrary, Sam and Elena swan about the countryside sampling restaurant fare and doing a bit of house-hunting of their own. In fact, despite the appearance of a private investigator and the involvement of underworld characters, this book fits firmly in the cozy genre. There's no blood, no gore....and finally, no murder. It's a story about a caper and how Sam manages to keep the evil mastermind from winning (that's no spoiler--surely you know the bad guy can't possibly win in a book that features such delights as velouté d'asperges and roast duck breast stuffed with green olives).

This was a fun little reading escape. Not quite my usual fare in the mystery genre...because, really, there's no mystery. You know who the bad guy is from page one. You're given his M.O. straight up, so you know what he's going to do. And it's no surprise when Sam foils his plans. But the writing is crisp and the characters engaging. A nice little outing.  ★★★


J F Norris said...

I didn't know Mayle wrote novels. And -- I learned from internet search -- he's been doing so for decades! Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a bubble. What seems like ages ago I enjoyed his famous memoir A YEAR IN PROVENCE. I like the title of this book, I love caper novels when done right. Is this like a Westlake caper novel? I may have to check this out. Hope the CPL has this series. They probably do.

jmisgro said...

I am glad you liked it...he's not a favorite of mine.

Bev Hankins said...

John...I'm not terribly up on Westlake, so I can't really make a comparison. (I've read one Westlake novel like maybe 30 years ago....) To be perfectly honest, I grabbed this because it was a 2014 release that looked promising (and I have one challenge that requires new release). It's a fairly enjoyable story--not something I'd want a steady diet of, though.

fredamans said...

No blood, no gore, and no murder?! No way! I know it's not for me... lol
Great review!