An Englishwoman abroad seeks repose but finds murder.
Pity all those recently divorced cozy heroines who must fend for themselves financially by opening bookshops or offering bus tours. Penelope Kite is luckier. Shedding her chronically unfaithful husband, David, leaves her with enough cash to purchase a house in Provence. In buying Le Chant d’Eau in the tiny town of St. Merlot, Penelope envisions quiet afternoons looking out at the tranquil Luberon Valley with a carafe of rosé at her elbow—just as soon as she gets the water and electricity running, tames the overgrown garden, and cleans the years of grime and cracked plaster from the walls and floor. Fortunately, Agence Hublot, the local realty company, takes an expansive view of their portfolio, and realtor Clémence Valencourt supplies Penelope with an electrician, a plumber, and a gardener as well as frequent advice about what a good Frenchwoman would eat, wear, and say. She also introduces Penelope to Pierre Louchard, a neighbor who doesn’t usually like foreigners but who invites her for a glass of plum brandy anyway. Unfortunately, Clémence’s expertise stops short of murder. So when Penelope’s initial effort at restoring Le Chant d’Eau’s swimming pool to its former glory turns up the body of local lowlife Manuel Avore, chic Clémence directs her new friend to her old friend, mayor Laurent Millais, who’s more approachable than surly police chief Georges Reyssens. The more enmeshed she becomes in village life, the more Penelope sparkles, turning what could have been a lightweight Shirley Temple into champagne.
Although Kent makes no promises, updates on her heroine’s further adventures would be most welcome.