“Why is it that bad news so often arrives on Monday mornings?” (p. 3) When insurance investigator Elena Morales gets a call to investigate a diamond theft in Nice, she is thrilled that she can once again visit her friend Francis Reboul. She soon discovers that there are absolutely no clues in this diamond theft, which is one
in a string of robberies in Southern France going back to 2002. However, Elena is
delighted to discover that the small home she and Sam Levitt have been trying to purchase near Reboul’s villa is now theirs. Frustrated with the lack of clues, Elena decides to quit her job in Los Angeles and move to France.
Although the hunt for the diamond thief is over, and Elena and Sam are busy with the renovation of their new home, Sam makes a fateful decision. While Elena is busy renovating their new home with Coco Dumas, a designer who
is Reboul’s former lover, Sam is off with his journalist friend Phillipe to pursue clues to the elusive diamond thefts. Where will the clues lead? Is the thief closer than they think?
The engaging and interesting characters in this novel will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy a light mystery while reading about the joys of living in Provence. Clues and renovations are discussed over elaborately prepared meals, and appropriate wines. Peter Mayle spends many paragraphs describing locations, menus, and the local ambience of the rich and famous in Provence. Parties are opulent, villas are gorgeous, and the rich people who inhabit them are beautiful, fit, and impeccably dressed. Appearances are important! “Business might be going to take a tumble, thought Elena, but, this being France, a high level of chic must always be maintained.” (p. 10) This is a great novel to read on a lazy afternoon by the pool, on a beach, or curled up by a roaring fire.
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 Diamond Caper is the fourth 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) and
The Corsican Caper (2014). Peter Mayle combines mystery with marvelous descriptions of life on the French Riviera in The Diamond Caper. Readers familiar with the series will definitely enjoy it, and new readers will be fascinated by the details of everyday life in southern France: “The menu was simple: chilled melon soup, filet mignon with a red wine sauce, salad with balsamic dressing, and Alphonse’s most decadent chocolate tart.” (p.209)