Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle

After reading the second in this series, I realize that there's really not a whole lot of mystery in Mayle's mysteries, but they sure are fun anyway. If you've read any of his other works, you know he's a huge francophile, and the love shines through in the way he describes all of the wonderful meals and glasses of wine that Sam Levitt and his allies enjoy while pursuing the latest caper.

Sam gets a visit in L.A. from the fellow who was both the culprit and ultimately, the victim, in The Vintage Caper, M. Reboulle, the billionaire with the most amazing wine cellar ever. Reboulle was so impressed with the acting job and scam that Sam ran on him to recover the stolen wine that when he needs a front man for a project he's working on in Marseilles, developing a prime piece of shoreline, he decides he must have Sam's talents on hand. Never one to turn down an all-expense-paid trip to Provence, Sam and his girlfriend, and erstwhile employer, Elena, jump on Reboulle's private jet and fly off to near paradise.

Reboulle's arch enemy is the chairman of a committee which will decide which of three developers' plans will be selected. So he feels he cannot allow any hint of his involvement with the potential project to leak out, and asks Sam to pretend to be the American representative of a Swiss construction firm and to make all of the presentations to the committee. One of the other firms is run by a rather unscrupulous former British bookie, and he and his thug employees are not above a little attempted murder and mayhem when it comes to influencing the decision. Things get a little bit tough for Sam and Elena and their friends for a while, but sneakiness and a good con seem to do the trick every time.

By the time you're through, I guarantee you're going to want to head to France to do a little private investigating of your own.

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