Death in Provence
The first entry in a clever, lighthearted mystery series set in modern Provence—a delightful blend of Agatha Christie and Peter Mayle—featuring the irrepressible Penelope Kite, a young-at-heart divorcee with a knack for stumbling across dead bodies.It’s love at first sight when Penelope Kite sees Le Chant d’Eau—The Song of Water—the stone farmhouse tucked high in the hills above the Luberon valley, complete with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. For years, Penelope put her unfaithful ex-husband and her ungrateful stepchildren first. Since taking early retirement from her job in forensics at the Home Office in England, she’s been an unpaid babysitter and chauffeur for her grandchildren. Now, she’s going to start living for herself. Though her dream house needs major renovations, Penelope impulsively buys the property and moves to St. Merlot.But Penelope’s daydreams of an adventurous life in Provence didn’t include finding a corpse floating face down in her swimming pool. The discovery of the dead man plunges her headlong into a Provençal stew of intrigue and lingering resentments simmering beneath the deceptively sunny village. Having worked in the forensics office, Penelope knows a thing or two about murder investigations. To find answers, she must carefully navigate between her seemingly ubiquitous, supercilious (and enviably chic) estate agent, the disdainful chief of police, and the devilishly handsome mayor—even as she finds herself tempted by all the delicacies the region has to offer. Thank goodness her old friend Frankie is just a flight away . . . and that Penelope is not quite as naïve as her new neighbors in St. Merlot believe.Set against the exquisite backdrop of Provence, steeped in history, atmosphere, and secrets, Death in Provence introduces an irresistible heroine and a delightful new mystery series.

Death in Provence Details

TitleDeath in Provence
Author
ReleaseFeb 19th, 2019
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062869852
Rating
GenreMystery, Cultural, France

Death in Provence Review

  • Cara Putman
    January 1, 1970
    A delightful mystery involving an ex-pat British woman who moves to Provenance and stumbles onto murder and danger. Thoroughly enjoyed the pages!
  • Tripfiction
    January 1, 1970
    Perfect reading material for literary wanderlust to PROVENCESerena Kent is the author name of husband-and-wife writing duo, Deborah Lawrenson and Rob Rees and they clearly work well together as they have produced a delightful cosy murder mystery set in the heart of Provence.Penelope Vine has reached retirement age (at the ripe age of 50!); she has tended her family, she has invested enough of her time working in forensic pathology, she is divorced. So it is time for this merry divorcée to strike Perfect reading material for literary wanderlust to PROVENCESerena Kent is the author name of husband-and-wife writing duo, Deborah Lawrenson and Rob Rees and they clearly work well together as they have produced a delightful cosy murder mystery set in the heart of Provence.Penelope Vine has reached retirement age (at the ripe age of 50!); she has tended her family, she has invested enough of her time working in forensic pathology, she is divorced. So it is time for this merry divorcée to strike out on her own. Relocation has tempted her! With the help of sharply turned out estate agent, Clémence Valencourt, she finds the supremely delapidated Chant d’Eau and decides to buy it. Her own family members feel she should seek help as this is a decision that really doesn’t suit anyone but her – maybe medication for menopause might help, therapy, a good talking to…. But she is set upon her mission, the stunning views of her new acquisition are to die for. Only someone does die, as we know right from the outset. A body is retrieved from her derelict swimming pool, seemingly that of local drunk and gambler, Manuel Avore, adorned with a playing card, the Ace of Spades (the card of death).Clémence seems to pop up at the drop of hat “..always here, there, everywhere” which proves to be just a little unnerving. Factor in her seemingly clandestine meetings with other locals – including the handsome Mayor, Laurent Millais – and Penelope feels she has to cast a keen eye over her activities.As Penny observes the unfolding investigation, she starts poking around herself (after all she has spent quite some time working in the forensic pathology department of the Home Office) and when she finds some old bones whilst someone appears to be taking a pot shot at her, she is all the more determined to get to the bottom of this village murder mystery that seems to centre on her newly acquired on home. Clearly she will not be able to settle into her new life until everything is resolved! But her prying is not appreciated by some of the locals…The flavour of the area imbues the storyline with colour, smells and scenery. Penelope’s house is near Apt and as she starts to uncover the mystery that unfolds, she takes in her locale, from Bonnieux, past Lacoste (where the Marquis de Sade had his château) and many more delightful villages and scenery. This novel is an absolute delight for foodies and even Le Sanglier Paresseux at Caseneuve, where Penny meets up with handsome Mayor Millais, is featured in the book (top tip, by the way). The terrace proves to be the perfect place to sample Vacqueyras red wine.The closed and almost incestuous nature of village life in the South of France is well depicted, old family feuds seem to rumble down the generations, gossips freely exchange information, local festivals are ubiquitous, and the odd game of Pétanque (Provençal boules) is featured in the village square. The boulangerie is at the heart of the narrative with its splendid array of pastries which are just too tantalising for the reader stuck elsewhere,The novel starts out with a real spring in its step, there is humour and sangfroid as this cosy caper evolves. It then flatlines as the various strands dovetail in a slightly convoluted fashion. Perfect reading material, however, for literary wanderlust to Provence.
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  • Elsa Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    “Beach reads” are often considered a genre unto themselves: light, breezy fare that matches the light breezes of the seaside. That’s exactly how I felt reading Death in Provence. This book is as good as a holiday.After 24 years of marriage and trying to be a good mother, 50 year old retired divorcee Penelope Kite decides to start a new life by purchasing an old farm house in the South of France. When she receives the keys to her new home to start renovations, shockingly she finds the dead body o “Beach reads” are often considered a genre unto themselves: light, breezy fare that matches the light breezes of the seaside. That’s exactly how I felt reading Death in Provence. This book is as good as a holiday.After 24 years of marriage and trying to be a good mother, 50 year old retired divorcee Penelope Kite decides to start a new life by purchasing an old farm house in the South of France. When she receives the keys to her new home to start renovations, shockingly she finds the dead body of her next door neighbour floating in her swimming pool. At first, Penelope believes his death is down to the consumption of too much alcohol and unpaid gambling debts. However, when she gets acquainted with members from her local community, she discovers that Manuel Avore was a despised and hated man. Penelope soon realises there is more to her neighbour’s death and uses her skills as a former forensic Pathologist assistant to unearth “whodunit?”Serena Kent is a legitimately talented writer. The book takes place in Provence (South of France) and she writes with such imagery that you can picture the beautiful French towns and landscapes perfectly. Every character is fully thought out and developed. You see how they seamlessly fit into the world that she has created. Reading her words is truly a great experience. The story takes you places that you wouldn’t expect and at times reminded me of another famous fictional detective, Agatha Christie's Poirot.Mystery novels are great but a lot of them follow a similar formula. After reading a couple they start to become repetitive, predictable, and boring. I did not feel that way with Death in Provence. I like the fact that the main character Penelope is a smart 50 year old woman who has life experience and is trying to come to terms with aging. I’ve awarded Death in Provence five stars because the story has many twists and turns that you never really know what’s going to happen. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat! I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll keep this brief, but the ending is really good! I was surprised at who the murder was. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!A gorgeous mystery summer read to escape with this summer.
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  • Patricia Sands
    January 1, 1970
    A clever story that combines good humour, memorable characters, and an intriguing mystery, as it brings the readers into the heart of life in Provence. I loved it!
  • Agi
    January 1, 1970
    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 ski 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!Copy provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • Ellen Read
    January 1, 1970
    I so enjoyed Death in Provence.Although I’m still to visit Provence, I’ve always loved the locale, the colours, and the lavender. This story brings them all out and I loved it.It’s a light-hearted murder mystery, filled with intrigue and laughs. A loved the characters. The main character, Penelope Kite is a wonderful, older woman, clever, and determined to discover why there was a body in her swimming pool. Not what she expected when she bought a home in the small village of St Merlot.This is a I so enjoyed Death in Provence.Although I’m still to visit Provence, I’ve always loved the locale, the colours, and the lavender. This story brings them all out and I loved it.It’s a light-hearted murder mystery, filled with intrigue and laughs. A loved the characters. The main character, Penelope Kite is a wonderful, older woman, clever, and determined to discover why there was a body in her swimming pool. Not what she expected when she bought a home in the small village of St Merlot.This is a perfect holiday read. Escape to the sunshine. I highly recommend it.
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  • Bridget
    January 1, 1970
    DEATH IN PROVENCE is a wonderful, light, and relaxed read with all of the matching vibes you get when on holiday. That’s exactly how I felt - this novel is almost as good being on a long vacation.It is a refreshing, mystery fiction novel set in wonderfully scenic St Merlot, a sleepy, quiet village that has infrequent visitors at the unfashionable end of the Luberon Valley, France. St Merlot is unspoilt, with dry stone walls and wildflowers.What’s really likeable about it straight-away are the op DEATH IN PROVENCE is a wonderful, light, and relaxed read with all of the matching vibes you get when on holiday. That’s exactly how I felt - this novel is almost as good being on a long vacation.It is a refreshing, mystery fiction novel set in wonderfully scenic St Merlot, a sleepy, quiet village that has infrequent visitors at the unfashionable end of the Luberon Valley, France. St Merlot is unspoilt, with dry stone walls and wildflowers.What’s really likeable about it straight-away are the opening chapters that draw you into the main character, Penelope Kite. Recently retired and divorced, she is an optimistic, happy, fifty-year-old with plenty of joie-de-vivre. Penelope, or Penny to her friends, has put her unfaithful ex-husband and her ungrateful stepchildren first, for a long time. Since she left her job in forensics at the Home Office in England, she’s been an unpaid babysitter and chauffeur for her grandchildren. Now, she’s going to start living for herself so she buys her dream house, Le Chant d’Eau, or The Song of Water. The stone farmhouse tucked high in the hills is in need of major restoration but is complete with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. But not long after her arrival at Le Chant d’Eau, a corpse is found floating in her swimming pool. The local detective doesn’t seem particularly interested in finding out either the truth or the murderer, but Penny knows a thing or two about murder investigations herself so she starts an investigation of her own.Enter Clemence Valencourt, the chic but supercilious estate agent, the disdainful chief of police, Inspector Paul Gamelin brought in from the headquarters of the Police Municipale in Cavaillon to investigate. He is 40-ish, has a tanned narrow face, greying hair and a grave demeanour. He also speaks excellent English. The devilishly handsome local mayor is called in to formally identify the corpse. He is the maire de St Merlot, and is gorgeous, with floppy sun-streaked hair, a caramel tan and chiselled cheekbones He also has stunning dark blue eyes...................All this and being tempted by the delightful food and drink delicacies that Provence has to offer. Luckily her kind and high-spirited, old friend, Frankie who is conveniently fluid in French is just a flight away. One of the highlights of the book is following the many twists and turns of the plot. I liked the fact that Penny is a smart 50-year-old woman who has lots of life experience and is trying to come to terms with ageing and that she is not quite as naive as her new neighbours in St. Merlot seem to believe. Both the plot and the character development are excellent, and the story is captivating and engaging. It held my interest from start to finish.DEATH IN PROVENCE was an interesting novel particularly for the interplay of the different secondary characters as well as the primary ones - a reticent and monosyllabic neighbour, an eccentric but honourable gardener, a jaunty and smiling electrician, and a close-knit village community, to name but a few. Plenty of ups and downs along the way and plenty of surprises. I loved Serena Kent’s writing style which I found to be so vivid and very easy to read. The descriptions of the places, people and food were very real and it was easy to imagine that you were actually there. She has reflected the spirit of the French villagers, their individuality brilliantly. Although I did not figure out who was behind the murders, even though all the clues were there, I had a great time guessing and I loved it! I was very satisfied with the ending. I have been inspired to read more from Serena Kent and I highly recommend this book. I suggest wholeheartedly that you add it to your reading list. Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jacqueline
    January 1, 1970
    We meet Penelope Kite at the beginning of her new adventure in Provence. Having swapped life in Surrey, where she is at the beck and call of a demanding family, for a farmhouse with potential in the south of France, things immediately start to go wrong. The discovery of a dead body floating in her swimming pool, strange comings and goings on her property, and a painfully slow police investigation, mean her idyllic new life in France is anything but.Thankfully she has plenty of chilled rosé and f We meet Penelope Kite at the beginning of her new adventure in Provence. Having swapped life in Surrey, where she is at the beck and call of a demanding family, for a farmhouse with potential in the south of France, things immediately start to go wrong. The discovery of a dead body floating in her swimming pool, strange comings and goings on her property, and a painfully slow police investigation, mean her idyllic new life in France is anything but.Thankfully she has plenty of chilled rosé and fresh pain au chocolats, and she soon discovers a rich and varied local community in the village of St Merlot. With a background in forensic investigation she can’t help but try to piece together the suspicious circumstances of her neighbour’s demise, but the unfriendly Chief of Police, overly charming Mayor and an estate agent who keeps popping up unexpectedly, would all rather she left well alone. This was a great fun read that contained all the best bits of life in France, fantastic local characters and attention to detail that anyone who has spent time in a French village will appreciate. With plenty of humour and a mystery to be solved too, all set against the landscape of Provence that came to life from the pages, this book was perfect holiday reading, for the bargain price of 99p.Happily, I know that the next book in the series is well on the way and I can't wait to head back to St Merlot and read more.
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  • Mariann
    January 1, 1970
    “Her dream house in Provence. The cicadas, the annoying wasps. If only she had known what lay in store.” ... and a dead body floating in her pool. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery set in Provence as I have always wanted to visit there. This book with lots of rose wine, delicious food, charming villages, lavender, and French characters, gives a wonderful sense of place. Ex Pat Penelope helps solve the mystery of dead bodies and bullets flying by her everywhere she seems to go. Of course she meet “Her dream house in Provence. The cicadas, the annoying wasps. If only she had known what lay in store.” ... and a dead body floating in her pool. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery set in Provence as I have always wanted to visit there. This book with lots of rose wine, delicious food, charming villages, lavender, and French characters, gives a wonderful sense of place. Ex Pat Penelope helps solve the mystery of dead bodies and bullets flying by her everywhere she seems to go. Of course she meets many great characters in her new village and I look forward to see where her new friendships and possible love interests go in the following books of this new series.
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  • Susannah
    January 1, 1970
    For fans of cozy mysteries with an international setting— this book doesn’t make you think too hard, and has some enjoyable scenery and gastronomic elements to it. However, I felt the characters were underdeveloped and there were some odd choices in their backstories. I’m not sure any British woman would be found uttering “hell’s bells” as often as our protagonist, and BFF Frankie absolutely comes across as obnoxiously American. Bit longer than a typical cozy read in my opinion, so if that’s you For fans of cozy mysteries with an international setting— this book doesn’t make you think too hard, and has some enjoyable scenery and gastronomic elements to it. However, I felt the characters were underdeveloped and there were some odd choices in their backstories. I’m not sure any British woman would be found uttering “hell’s bells” as often as our protagonist, and BFF Frankie absolutely comes across as obnoxiously American. Bit longer than a typical cozy read in my opinion, so if that’s your cup of tea you should check this one out in Spring 2019. Thanks for Edelweiss for the ARC.
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  • Elysia Fionn
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, hats off to anyone who can pull off writing a book with their husband (and both of them survive the event)... I love my husband dearly, but if you ever want to see us go completely off the rails, put us together on an artistic project. Whoo-boy!That being said, this book is really a fun read. One of the things I loved about it was the name-dropping of Poirot, Cadfael, and some other of my well-known and much-loved British sleuths.... however, I found it exceedingly funny that middl First of all, hats off to anyone who can pull off writing a book with their husband (and both of them survive the event)... I love my husband dearly, but if you ever want to see us go completely off the rails, put us together on an artistic project. Whoo-boy!That being said, this book is really a fun read. One of the things I loved about it was the name-dropping of Poirot, Cadfael, and some other of my well-known and much-loved British sleuths.... however, I found it exceedingly funny that middle-aged Penelope and her large, boisterous pal Frankie so very much resembled gardening murder sleuths Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme (of "Rosemary & Thyme" TV fame)... (also one of my all-time faves, I bought the entire series box set on DVD)... but those names were never dropped. Maybe the authors felt it would be obvious and didn't need to be said? I mean, Penelope even drives a Range Rover (just like Rosemary Boxer!)... though hers is new...... which brings me to one of my pet peeves about this story. Penelope is retired, driving a brand new Range Rover, and dining out for almost every meal - and yet we never know where all her money is coming from. It's just kind of odd... usually in a story, if a character is either broke or has so much money they never have to think twice about buying anything they want (like, oh, say, a house in Provence...), there's usually a plot device (won the lottery, living of major alimony after divorce of millionaire, etc.) that explains it. In this story, not so much.I know every book has to end, and I just sort of wish the rapid-last-twenty-pages-of-murder-explanation had been avoided (it made me a bit dizzy), and I wish that some sort of romance had actually happened in the story to the main character, (whether with the mayor, or the mysterious Camrose who we hear about but never see, or even the guy who runs the bakery... hey, free croissants!) rather than using it as a teaser for a possible next novel. The main characters certainly reveled in their sensory satisfaction (I lost count of how many bottles of rose this lady drank!), so it leaves the reader feeling a bit denied the pleasure of reading about a little romance in amongst the cadavers (not literally... ew!).All in all, a great summer read - but warning: Have a bottle of rose handy, because even if you don't drink it that often, these ladies will have you longing for one before you hit chapter three!
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  • Tracey Gemmell
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy of 'Death in Provence' from the publisher.After years at everyone’s beck and call, Penelope Kite’s had enough. She leaves behind her ex-husband, ungrateful adult step-children, and chilly old England to pursue the good life in Provence. Blissfully busy with a beautiful – though dilapidated ‒ new house and a never-ending supply of pain au chocolate, Penelope’s found her paradise … until a dead body turns up in the swimming pool. She must channel skills learned at the Ho I received an advance copy of 'Death in Provence' from the publisher.After years at everyone’s beck and call, Penelope Kite’s had enough. She leaves behind her ex-husband, ungrateful adult step-children, and chilly old England to pursue the good life in Provence. Blissfully busy with a beautiful – though dilapidated ‒ new house and a never-ending supply of pain au chocolate, Penelope’s found her paradise … until a dead body turns up in the swimming pool. She must channel skills learned at the Home Office Department of Forensic Pathology to unravel the murderous mysteries of her adoptive French town. And if that’s not enough, attempts on her life, hot flushes and non-existent willpower over the siren call of the local patisserie leave her convinced retirement’s not for sissies.This humorous and entertaining romp is coloured with delightful Provençal details that will have you booking flights long before the murderer is revealed. Quirky characters abound, like the petitely perfect Madam Valencourt, who avoids croissants like a delivery of anthrax, and Penelope’s larger-than-life best buddy, Frankie, who pours third (fourth? fifth?) glasses of wine with no apology. A drop-dead gorgeous mayor, a secret love and unsettling neighbours add to the fun. Serena Kent is the pen name of husband-and-wife writing duo, Deborah Lawrenson and Rob Rees. Ms Lawrenson has authored several wonderful novels, including 'The Sea Garden', 'The Lantern' and '300 Days of Sun'. 'Death in Provence' is a departure from her prior work and it fills a void I’ve been lamenting for years. So often, fictional humour appears to be the domain of the thirty-something crowd (think Sophie Kinsella, whose books I enjoy despite feeling somewhat disconnected from the age demographic). How refreshing, therefore, to meet Penelope Kite; smart and funny with all the strengths and flaws of maturity. She deserves her own book series – as do we, the well beyond thirty-something crowd looking for a relatable laugh. Unless, like me, you enjoy total immersion in a location, some of the forays into village life could slow the plot for you. I found a slightly repetitious ‘what we’ve learned or not learned so far in the investigation’ did the same. (If it were possible to give 4.5 stars, I may have done so for this reason.) But perhaps the pacing was cleverly designed to allow me more time to sip rosé and laugh out loud as I soaked up the sun in Provence. Recommended for Francophiles, croissant-ophiles and fans of Elinor Lipman ('The View from Penthouse B'). If you enjoyed the 'Rosemary and Thyme' television series, this has a similar vibe – but with better food and more wine!
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  • Cathy Cole
    January 1, 1970
    After reading Martin Walker's delightful Bruno Chief of Police mysteries and now this charming series opener, I might be forgiven for believing that all crime in the south of France seems to tie into World War II. A lot happened then, and old resentments seem never to be forgotten, only handed down from one generation to the next. Yes, the mystery in Death in Provence does hark back to that period of time, and it is a good, strong puzzle to solve, but I found myself liking other things even more After reading Martin Walker's delightful Bruno Chief of Police mysteries and now this charming series opener, I might be forgiven for believing that all crime in the south of France seems to tie into World War II. A lot happened then, and old resentments seem never to be forgotten, only handed down from one generation to the next. Yes, the mystery in Death in Provence does hark back to that period of time, and it is a good, strong puzzle to solve, but I found myself liking other things even more-- especially the main character, Penelope Kite.Penelope is a fiftysomething woman with a good head on her shoulders. Her background working with forensic scientists means she has a good idea of how investigations should be conducted and how evidence should be handled. I had to give her a lot of credit because she always kept the local police apprised of her findings regardless of how shabbily they treated her. Which brings up another point.A year or so ago, I read the first book in another mystery series set in the south of France, and the major reason why I did not care for it is that the main character spent most of her time whining about how her new neighbors didn't think she was wonderful and accept her into their midst in five seconds or less. For the most part, newcomers in key tourist areas like this are not going to be accepted quickly (if at all). Their habit of investing in properties at inflated prices means that young local families can't afford to buy their own homes. Resentment grows if the newcomer only lives there for a week or two each year, and it festers if other things are (or are not) done. I loved watching how Penelope conducted herself. This is one woman who is really looking forward to her new life, and she's going about it in just the right way.Death in Provence contains an excellent recipe for a continuing series: a puzzling mystery to solve, a dash of humor, the wonderful cuisine of Provence, a beautiful farmhouse to restore, and the perfect woman to handle it all. I look forward to the next book. Allons-y!
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  • Suzanne Robertson Moutis
    January 1, 1970
    I had such high hopes for this book. I wanted a little confection that would take me to the south of France with a soupçon of intrigue and romance. This novel is the first in a new series about an ex-pat English forensics specialist who, post-retirement, buys a house in the Luberon region and finds a dead body in her pool – what's not to like? So it kind of surprised me that it took me a long time to get through. It seemed completely in my wheelhouse and yet, after a week I was only halfway thro I had such high hopes for this book. I wanted a little confection that would take me to the south of France with a soupçon of intrigue and romance. This novel is the first in a new series about an ex-pat English forensics specialist who, post-retirement, buys a house in the Luberon region and finds a dead body in her pool – what's not to like? So it kind of surprised me that it took me a long time to get through. It seemed completely in my wheelhouse and yet, after a week I was only halfway through. There’s nothing overtly bad about it; in fact, the story is good, writing is capable, location is lovely, but it felt…slow. It just seemed to take forever to get someplace, you know? And with the character's scientific background, I expected the forensic aspects of the murder to be more of a focus, but they weren't. That just left the characters roaming aimlessly through the beautiful countryside with little direction and fewer clues.As with a few books I’ve read lately, the characters just did not fully engage me. In Death in Provence, I thought the heroine, Penny, seemed frumpy (and not in a lovable way) and timid. Yet she is only supposed to be in her early 50s. In addition, despite feelings of inadequacy after the breakup of her marriage a few years before this story takes place, she had a career helping a forensic pathologist in which she was respected and knowledgeable. Penny is obviously smart and together, but she felt more passive than passionate. Plus, I thought the other characters were quite clichéd. So, maybe a little more confidence and sexiness in the book would have improved it for me? Despite all that, I didn't leave it unfinished, which says something. There were lots of promising things here, and I'm hoping if the writer does a sequel it will hit the right notes for me.
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  • Darcia Helle
    January 1, 1970
    I was looking forward to an escape to France with these characters, but unfortunately I couldn't wait to leave it all behind.The biggest problem for me was that I didn't like any of the characters. Perhaps worse, I didn't find any of them interesting. Penelope is in her early 50s, and often behaves like an erratic, impulsive, clueless teenager. She's retired, already, and apparently has a ton of money because renovating an old home in need of an immense amount of work doesn't seem to worry her f I was looking forward to an escape to France with these characters, but unfortunately I couldn't wait to leave it all behind.The biggest problem for me was that I didn't like any of the characters. Perhaps worse, I didn't find any of them interesting. Penelope is in her early 50s, and often behaves like an erratic, impulsive, clueless teenager. She's retired, already, and apparently has a ton of money because renovating an old home in need of an immense amount of work doesn't seem to worry her from a financial perspective. She has ungrateful, self-centered adult children and spoiled, mean grandchildren yet for whatever reason she allows them to walk all over her. On a whim, she escapes from England to France, where we meet a cast of odd characters, though they're not odd in a fun way. Everyone in this little French town is just plain ridiculous.The pacing, particularly in the first half, is quite slow. We learn that Penelope is slightly overweight, hasn't had much happiness in her life, and likes wine - a lot. She also has a best friend who is brash and likes sex. That's about covers the high points. There is a lot of French and in this book. Sometimes the meaning is understandable given the context, while other times the French phrases won't mean a thing to you if you don't speak the language. My high school French lessons only covered me partway here. The plot takes a long time to form. By the time we got there, I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters.This type of cozy mystery, for me, relies on likable characters with a spark, and I just didn't find them here.*I received an advance copy from the publisher, via Amazon Vine, in exchange for my honest review.*
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  • Noemi Proietti
    January 1, 1970
    This was such an entertaining and refreshing read. With eccentric characters and a twisty but, at the same time, hilarious plot, you just need to sit down and enjoy this captivating mystery set in the beautiful South of France.Now that she is single and her children are grown-ups and have their own families, Penelope Kite decides it is time to think about herself. So she leaves England and her selfish family behind and she moves to a small village in Provence where she’s bought an old farm in ne This was such an entertaining and refreshing read. With eccentric characters and a twisty but, at the same time, hilarious plot, you just need to sit down and enjoy this captivating mystery set in the beautiful South of France.Now that she is single and her children are grown-ups and have their own families, Penelope Kite decides it is time to think about herself. So she leaves England and her selfish family behind and she moves to a small village in Provence where she’s bought an old farm in need of renovation, Le Chant d’Eau. But the start of her new life is quickly disturbed by the appearance of a dead body in her pool. The local police doesn’t seem to be very interested in finding out the truth about the murder or who is causing a series of incidents against her life, so Penelope starts investigating on her own with the help of her best friend Frankie. Between secret love affairs, misunderstandings, and feuds, everyone in the small Provençal village seems to be hiding something and Penelope turns into Miss Marple to find out the truth.I am always excited when I discover a new author and I am already a fan of Serena Kent (the pen name for the husband and wife author team Deborah Lawrenson and Rob Rees). I found myself completely immersed in this charming and well-planned out novel. From Clemence Valencourt, the estate agent who refuses to eat croissants, to Didier, the electrician obsessed with James Bond and Pink Floyd, from the handsome and charming mayor of the village to the unhelpful and arrongant chief of police, this novel has a cast of colourful characters who made me laugh out loud with their quirks. Add evocative descriptions that make you dream of the warmth of the South of France, of orchards and vineyards, of tasty food (those croissants!) and good wine and you have an entertaining and witty novel.DEATH IN PROVENCE is such a fun and enjoyable read and I’d like to thank Alainna Hadjigeorgiou and Orion for inviting me to take part of the blog tour.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    I was looking forward to a murder mystery set in France, but what I got was a disappointing plot with underdeveloped characters and a slow pace.The characters had so much potential for me, such as Madame Valencourt and Mayor Millais. Both are important people in the plot but we don’t get full backstories or even get to know them on a more personable level, we get few facts. Where is Madame Valencourts husband? Are the Mayor and Madame having an affair? There are so many questions that don’t get I was looking forward to a murder mystery set in France, but what I got was a disappointing plot with underdeveloped characters and a slow pace.The characters had so much potential for me, such as Madame Valencourt and Mayor Millais. Both are important people in the plot but we don’t get full backstories or even get to know them on a more personable level, we get few facts. Where is Madame Valencourts husband? Are the Mayor and Madame having an affair? There are so many questions that don’t get answered, and by the time your half way through you don’t care what the answers are anymore. The slow pace and plot didn’t tick the boxes for me. The change of language would have been a nice touch if you could actually understand it in the important bits. This felt to me like it stilted the stories progress.
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  • Susan Roebuck
    January 1, 1970
    Although seen through the eyes of an expatriate: Penelope, this story immerses the reader in Provence. The way of life, the characters, the lovely landscape allow the reader to live alongside Penny. Beautifully portrayed.It's actually a crime mystery novel, the local drunk is murdered and dumped in Penny's empty pool the day she moves into her beautiful cottage. Penny herself is a recent divorcee who is coming to terms with life on her own. But she's no fool - she used to work for a famous foren Although seen through the eyes of an expatriate: Penelope, this story immerses the reader in Provence. The way of life, the characters, the lovely landscape allow the reader to live alongside Penny. Beautifully portrayed.It's actually a crime mystery novel, the local drunk is murdered and dumped in Penny's empty pool the day she moves into her beautiful cottage. Penny herself is a recent divorcee who is coming to terms with life on her own. But she's no fool - she used to work for a famous forensic scientist, so she can view the crime with a professional eye. The twists and turns the plot takes are there, but cleverly woven into the story so that the ending is a complete surprise. An excellent read and very well written.
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  • Fernanda
    January 1, 1970
    What a blast this book is! I live in France and there is clearly a lot of inside track here. The mystery is intriguing but it’s the great characters who carry it with their witty exchanges, captured with panache on the page. Penelope Kite is an engaging heroine, clearly a lot more attractive than she gives herself credit for, and her opposites-attract friend Frankie is a warm-hearted hurricane. There’s a lot of warmth in this book, in fact: from Penelope’s hot flushes and her involuntary feeling What a blast this book is! I live in France and there is clearly a lot of inside track here. The mystery is intriguing but it’s the great characters who carry it with their witty exchanges, captured with panache on the page. Penelope Kite is an engaging heroine, clearly a lot more attractive than she gives herself credit for, and her opposites-attract friend Frankie is a warm-hearted hurricane. There’s a lot of warmth in this book, in fact: from Penelope’s hot flushes and her involuntary feelings for the handsome Mayor, to the gradual friendships she forms and of course, the Provencal sun. The perfect armchair escape.
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  • Alissa
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you fo Goodeads and HarperCollins for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review. This was maybe the most "okay" book I've ever read, but I suspect I was not the target demographic. I enjoy a good mystery novel, but as someone with no nostalgia for France, this book read more like an ode to a part of the world I have little interest in. The mystery was just interesting enough to compel me to finish reading, but I mostly finished just for the sake of finishing, more so than I felt comp Thank you fo Goodeads and HarperCollins for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review. This was maybe the most "okay" book I've ever read, but I suspect I was not the target demographic. I enjoy a good mystery novel, but as someone with no nostalgia for France, this book read more like an ode to a part of the world I have little interest in. The mystery was just interesting enough to compel me to finish reading, but I mostly finished just for the sake of finishing, more so than I felt compelled by each part of the mystery's unveiling. Nothing in this novel broke the mould, but if you're interested in France and characters who are likeable enough, it may be a fun read for you!
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  • Carolyne Kauser-Abbott
    January 1, 1970
    Death in Provence is a fun-to-read first novel by Serena Kent. Her years ahead hold the promise of escapism in Provence, or that is what 50-year-old Penelope Kite thought when she purchased a rundown farmhouse in the Luberon. Here, was her chance to launch into retirement with a total lifestyle change. It really was too good to be true as her first day on the property dawned with the discovery of a dead body floating in the swimming pool. The plot has plenty of twists and turns as everyone in to Death in Provence is a fun-to-read first novel by Serena Kent. Her years ahead hold the promise of escapism in Provence, or that is what 50-year-old Penelope Kite thought when she purchased a rundown farmhouse in the Luberon. Here, was her chance to launch into retirement with a total lifestyle change. It really was too good to be true as her first day on the property dawned with the discovery of a dead body floating in the swimming pool. The plot has plenty of twists and turns as everyone in town (or so it seems) tries to determine “whodunit” and why. This novel was a delightful read.
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  • Mary Vine
    January 1, 1970
    This is a superb cozy mystery that sparkles like champagne. I loved it from the very beginning - the engaging style of writing, the atmospheric setting and the way I could relate to a middle-aged woman, young at heart, brave and yet up for an adventure. The characters did make me laugh as I have several of these larger than life friends, just like hilarious and good-hearted Frankie. Although this is a murder mystery there is plenty of wit and banter to balance the murder story to a satisfying co This is a superb cozy mystery that sparkles like champagne. I loved it from the very beginning - the engaging style of writing, the atmospheric setting and the way I could relate to a middle-aged woman, young at heart, brave and yet up for an adventure. The characters did make me laugh as I have several of these larger than life friends, just like hilarious and good-hearted Frankie. Although this is a murder mystery there is plenty of wit and banter to balance the murder story to a satisfying conclusion. For a wonderful, end of summer read, I couldn't recommend it any higher.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    I received a digital copy of this title from Edelweiss for an honest review.I had a lot of things to say about this book, but I've forgotten most of them since I didn't review this immediately after I read it. At any rate, I didn't care for this one. I didn't really like most of the characters. The MC had a lot of Americanisms she spouted a lot and her friend felt like a typical obnoxious American, but they were both British. The side characters I didn't care for either. The real estate lady and I received a digital copy of this title from Edelweiss for an honest review.I had a lot of things to say about this book, but I've forgotten most of them since I didn't review this immediately after I read it. At any rate, I didn't care for this one. I didn't really like most of the characters. The MC had a lot of Americanisms she spouted a lot and her friend felt like a typical obnoxious American, but they were both British. The side characters I didn't care for either. The real estate lady and the mayor were odd, though not in a fun way. Eh.
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  • H
    January 1, 1970
    Received the Kindle version from Goodreads. (Thank you!)Like to read debut novels, so Death in Provence, jumped to the top of my TBR list. Provence, grabbed my attention, so the book cut in line of my BRL (being read list).Entertaining tale of smart female sleuth in the process of restarting her life. Spoiler alert, don’t read if hungry! Found in captivating to read, and although it would be a great beach read, was glad it was my first read for 2019.
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  • Marissa
    January 1, 1970
    Goodreads Kindle Copy WinA divorcee decides to retire early and move to Provence and live in a farm house. She gets more than she bargains in her life as she stumbles over a dead body. She will have to watch her step ass looks for answers in between questions or else she might become the next victim.This is a nice new series with the backdrop of historical Provence.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book thru GoodReads and am happy I did. I loved the book; particularly the author's description of the villa. One can almost see it and I really wanted to be sitting outside in early evening and sipping my wine. The characters came to life for me.It's a charming story that I'm sure readers will enjoy.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Pleasant little cozy mystery that will help readers pass the time. The mix of English and French characters was interesting and provided a bit of twist to my usual mystery story reading.3.5 star story
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A ‘cosy’ light mystery. There is much mention of rosé wine and croissants... However, it kept me guessing as to ‘whodunnit’ right up to the end, which is more than I can say for several recent reads that have been billed as higher-brow mystery literature!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This started out with great promise then slowly got repetitive 😔 I lost interest but did finish it.
  • Sam Glasbrenner
    January 1, 1970
    I won the kindle edition of this book in a Goodreads giveaway and cannot wait to read it!
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