Wednesday, April 2, 2014
THE CORSICAN CAPER BY PETER MAYLE
Opening a new book by premier raconteur Peter Mayle is very much like returning to your favorite restaurant - you know dinner will be delicious and you cannot wait to taste it. So it was for me upon beginning The Corsican Caper - eager to meet the intriguing characters, to vicariously enjoy gourmet meals, well chosen wines, and visit luxurious only to be dreamed of places. (In this case, one of the places is a yacht, The Caspian Sea. Or as Mayle puts it “the mother of all yachts” - three hundred feet of dark blue with four decks, radar, helicopter pad and two speedboats behind. Plus, of course, an interior so luxe it would put a Park Avenue penthouse to shame.)
Mayle’s characters always travel First Class and eat in 5 star restaurants - what a joy it is to join them! Once again we’re in the company of Sam Levitt who well knows how to solve a crime without missing a meal or a glass of wine. He and the beautiful Elena Morales are coming from California for an extended visit with their dear friend, Francis Reboul..As it happens (and you knew it would) Reboul lives in a palatial Corsican estate, El Pharo, one of the most prime properties in all of the Mediterranean.
While awaiting his guests Reboul notices the mega yacht just several hundred yards offshore. It slows, comes to a stop and several figures appear on the top deck - they all appear to be looking directly at him. Of course, Reboul finds this a bit disconcerting, and he would be more than disconcerted if he knew that the owner of the yacht was an unscrupulous billionaire Russian, Oleg Vronsky.
Vronsky has been checking out the coast for a suitable home, and he wants El Pharo. Problem is the Russian always gets what he wants, sometimes leaving a dead body or two behind. He’s never been charged with a crime since when the deaths occurred Vronsky had been away in another country. The Russian begins his quest for El Pharo by hiring a reputedly clever real estate agent, donating large sums of money to ingratiate himself with the local populace, and then offering to pay whatever price Reboul demanded.
Reboul remains adamant in refusing to sell. What can Vronsky do? You’ll find out as Sam worries about Reboul’s safety and then concocts a plan.
Mayle is as ever a charming entertaining guide as action shifts along the bounteous Mediterranean coast with twists and turns (sometimes comedic), glorious scenery, and gustatorial delights aplenty.
- Gail Cooke