Y’all. I did it, I started a series on the first book!
Also–move to make a new subgenre of murder mystery, I think it should be called something like “umbrella-drink-vaction-murder-mystery” books. Serena Kent‘s Death in Provence is witty, engaging, and not at all overwhelming. There are forensic elements that are so juicy and the character is so lovable that it’s not as serious (and certainly not as dark) as other mysteries I’ve read. Hence, a really interesting beach/vacation read. 🙂
(Psst, here’s a link to my review vlog too!)
Penelope Kite is a middle-aged ex-forensic pathologist’s assistant who needs a life reset. #Relatable So, after a particularly lovely holiday in Provence and separating from her husband, she decides to pack up and move to Provence. Then, disaster strikes–a dead body ends up in her pool and mysterious happenings seem to follow her everywhere. It certainly doesn’t help that the police don’t seem to take her seriously (especially annoying given her work experience) and she is constantly forced to question who she can and can’t trust!
It’s so juicy and well thought out, if you’re a mystery fan, you’re sure to enjoy this novel. I loved Penelope–she’s smart and snarky–and all the other characters. It’s clear that Kent put in copious time and effort into developing her and her world, and it certainly paid off.
The pacing was excellent, there wasn’t too much exposition and I felt that the end wrapped up nicely–it didn’t feel rushed, nor did it feel too prolonged. The entire book was scattered with little bits of action and twists (definitely didn’t see the real murderer coming) that expertly complemented the very descriptive accounts of Pen and her friends.
For instance–I love that Penelope used to be a celloist and how this personality detail was addressed periodically to show a more gentle, thoughtful side of her compared to her curious-business-oriented-investigative side. I also loved how Kent constantly had us questioning whether the estate agent Clemence, or the (slightly xenophobic) neighbor M. Louchard had Penelope within their best intentions. It’s. So. Good! Plus, it gets bonus points for making me add Provence to my list of dream vacation spots and reigniting my appreciation of the mystery genre. Very excited for the next book in the series, but my TBR list is so long, so we’ll see when I get there!
I honestly cannot think of any stylistic, character, or plot critiques, it’s overall a very enjoyable read. Of course, if you’re not a huge mystery person, this may not be your first choice book, but it’s still worth checking out if you’re mystery-curious.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Thanks to Allie Cave at The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop for recommending my next book (and recent release)–Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor.