This is another charming little adventure by Peter Mayle, taking place in Marseilles. Sam and Elena are on holiday for a bit, enjoying the home and company of their good friend, Francis Reboul, Le Pharo. When a ruthless billionaire Russian businessman, Vronsky, decides he absolutely must own Le Pharo, he will stop at nothing to get it, including murder, and it is up to our friends from L.A. to thwart his plots, with a little help from Reboul's other friends, like Philippe and Mimi, and the Corsican brothers Figatelli.
As always, there is plenty of French fare for the bon vivants, with descriptions of meals like "a croissant of such exquisite lightness that it threatened to float off the plate."
"Dinner tonight is a simple affair, but alternative arrangements can be made for anyone who is allergic to foie gras, rack of Sisteron lamb scented with rosemary, fresh goat cheeses, and tarte Tatin."
When Sam and Elena go off shopping for homes in Provence, Reboul has some words of wisdom for them.
"Charm is the great excuse for dark, rooms, tiny window, low ceilings, suspect plumbing, rats in the cellar, bats in the bedroom, and anything else that might be seen as a disadvantage. If the property is really on its last legs and falling to pieces, it has un charme fou - a crazy charm."
This passage sounds all too familiar these days.
"Judging by what I saw, face-to-face conversation is finished...All I saw, everywhere, were groups of people who were together but not talking to each other, nor even looking at each other. They were all staring at their cell phones."
If you're feeling a bit overworked, think of poor Reboul.
"'And now, I must go to the cellar and choose the wines.' He paused, and gave a long, theatrical sigh. 'My work is never done.'"
Mine, however, is.