A Russian oligarch, a billionaire, and a mountaintop villa on the French Riviera make Peter Mayle’s most recent novel, The Corsican Caper, a wonderful read. “Life was good. Sam Levitt and Elena Morales, Reboul’s close friends and partners in past adventures, were arriving from California later in the day for an extended vacation” (p. 3) The group of friends is planning to sail around Corsica. They also plan to spend time enjoying lots of good food at the famous restaurants of Marseilles.
However, their plans are immediately interrupted by Oleg Vronsky, a rich and powerful Russian oligarch who becomes obsessed with buying Francis Reboul’s luxurious mountaintop home. “His house, Le Palais du Pharo, originally built for Napoleon III, was the biggest private residence in Marseille, and the most glamorous.” (p. 4) Vronsky sees it from his yacht and decides he must own it. In Russia, his criminal connections and fantastic wealth have made him incredibly powerful. “For years he had been able to have exactly what he wanted.” (p. 83) His enemies and business partners seem to miraculously “disappear” whenever they stand in his way. He harasses Reboul to sell his home even though Reboul has no intention of doing so. The police are on alert, but Vronsky’s criminal connections make him a real threat. Will he resort to murder to get what he wants? Can Reboul, Sam and Elena join forces to save the day?
Readers will be fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous on the French Riviera. The location of Reboul’s villa outside of Marseilles is described in sumptuous detail. There are journeys to Monaco and later to Corsica in order to distract the villain Vronsky. Readers will imagine themselves lounging by the amazing pool, watching dazzling Mediterranean sunsets, and dining on delicious French food.
Peter Mayle was an advertising executive in Britain before gaining fame for his lighthearted accounts of living in Provence--A Year in Provence (1991) and
Toujours Provence (1992). These books were made into a television series. His novel
A Good Year was made into a film directed by Ridley Scott in 2006. The Corsican Caper is the third novel in the Sam/Elena/Reboul series. The characters were first introduced in
The Vintage Caper (2009), and later appeared in The Marseille Caper (2012). All of these novels combine mystery with incredible locations in southern France. Peter Mayle makes readers feel as if they are experiencing the French Rivera in The Corsican Caper. “A good lunch anywhere is a pleasure, but a good lunch with friends out of doors on a fine summer’s day is a total joy. Everything seems to have been given an extra touch of magic.” (p. 161)