Peter Mayle is the author of fifteen books, nine of them novels, including the beloved bestseller A Year in Provence. A recipient of the L gion d'Honneur from the French government for his cultural contributions, he lived in Provence with his wife, Jennie, for more than twenty-five years. Mayle died in 2018.
The Mayle charm, once so delightful and original in A Year in Provence (LJ 4/1/90) and Toujours Provence (LJ 5/1/91), has grown thin over the years as the author, a veritable one-man tourist board, has churned out one book after another about sunny, romantic Provence. That charm is now stretched to the breaking point with this third novel. Like his first, Hotel Pastis (LJ 9/1/93), it features an expatriate Englishman, a sexy but smart woman, a millionaire, and lots of peasants, goons, and gendarmes. Instead of a bank robbery, the plot this time focuses on a stolen formula for producing truffles, those very rare and very expensive gastronomic delicacies. Mayle writes smoothly and cleverly (the result of 15 years as an advertising copywriter and executive), but the result is a book that is as phony as its promotional copy. Mayle needs to break out of his rut and choose a new topic‘perhaps the colorful inhabitants of Long Island, where he now lives. Buy only if there is demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/96]‘Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Again venturing into the wryly humorous thriller territory of Hotel Pastis, Mayle has produced another caper heavily larded with local color and gastronomic adventures. And again, as in his novels and his nonfiction evocations of Provence, truffles play a crucial role. Here his protagonist is Bennett, a Brit expatriate on his uppers. Having lost his savings in an investment scam, he is intent on finding the means to reside in Saint-Martin in Provence. He advertises his services: "Anything considered except marriage''-and is hired by Julian Poe, a stupendously wealthy fellow Brit, who needs help in evading the French income tax. Pretending to be Poe in the latter's Monaco apartment, Bennett becomes involved in the hijacking of a case containing the secret formula for the successful cultivation of the elusive black truffle. When the Italian Mafioso who stole the formula auctions his loot aboard his yacht, Poe, scheming to substitute a fake, sends Bennett to steal it back. He also sends Anna, a savvy and sexy mercenary enforcer from New York, to help protect his interests. After they recover the formula, Anna persuades Bennett to up his fee to a cool million. With the furious Italians joining Poe in the hot pursuit, the now romantically involved extortioners gormandize their lusty way across the south of France while outwitting their pursuers. Mayle makes froth highly palatable in this larky chronicle of sybaritic pleasures and larcenous activities. 150,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections. (June)