Category Archives: Death in Provence

Review: Death in Provence by Serena Kent

Title: Death in Provence by Serena Kent
Penelope Kite Series Book One
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The first entry in a clever, lighthearted mystery series set in modern Provence—a delightful blend of Agatha Christie and Peter Mayle—featuring the irrepressible Penelope Kite, a young-at-heart divorcee with a knack for stumbling across dead bodies.

It’s love at first sight when Penelope Kite sees Le Chant d’Eau—The Song of Water—the stone farmhouse tucked high in the hills above the Luberon valley, complete with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. For years, Penelope put her unfaithful ex-husband and her ungrateful stepchildren first. Since taking early retirement from her job in forensics at the Home Office in England, she’s been an unpaid babysitter and chauffeur for her grandchildren. Now, she’s going to start living for herself. Though her dream house needs major renovations, Penelope impulsively buys the property and moves to St. Merlot.

But Penelope’s daydreams of an adventurous life in Provence didn’t include finding a corpse floating face down in her swimming pool. The discovery of the dead man plunges her headlong into a Provençal stew of intrigue and lingering resentments simmering beneath the deceptively sunny village. Having worked in the forensics office, Penelope knows a thing or two about murder investigations. To find answers, she must carefully navigate between her seemingly ubiquitous, supercilious (and enviably chic) estate agent, the disdainful chief of police, and the devilishly handsome mayor—even as she finds herself tempted by all the delicacies the region has to offer. Thank goodness her old friend Frankie is just a flight away . . . and that Penelope is not quite as naïve as her new neighbors in St. Merlot believe.

Set against the exquisite backdrop of Provence, steeped in history, atmosphere, and secrets, Death in Provence introduces an irresistible heroine and a delightful new mystery series.


The first installment in the Penelope Kite series, Death in Provence by Serena Kent is a charming cozy mystery.

Following a holiday in the French countryside,  Penelope Kite rather impulsively purchases a rundown country home in Provence. Upon her arrival, she is confronted with an overgrown yard, falling down plaster, no electricity or running water. Drowning her sorrows in a delicious rosé, Penelope is startled by the drunken appearance of a man who claims he owns her property. The next day, the same man is found dead in her swimming pool and Penelope finds herself playing amateur sleuth as she tries to uncover the man’s killer.

Penelope is in her early fifties, divorced, retired and tired of being taken advantage of by her unappreciative children. She is unsure she made the right decision following her out of character purchase but she is eager to settle into her new home. The murder of local Manuel Avore is certainly puzzling but she is also interested in finding out why her estate agent Clémence Valencourt keeps appearing at her new home. And why is gorgeous mayor Laurent Millais so involved in the case? Penelope is also put off by Chief of Police Georges Reyssens’ dismissive attitude and seemingly lack of interest in solving the Manuel’s murder.

Penelope is joined by her best friend, Frankie Turner-Blake, who is the perfect foil for Penelope’s uncertainty. Frankie is brash, outspoken and loves her bling. Her French is also much more proficient than Penelope’s and she discovers some very interesting and somewhat troubling information.  Frankie and Penelope then team up to do a little snooping around before Frankie returns to England.

While the premise of Death in Provence is intriguing, the pacing is slow and the story is a little repetitive. Penelope’s former profession provides her with insight into the goings on, but her lack of self-confidence leaves her second-guessing herself.   With a very unexpected plot twist, Serena Kent brings this cozy mystery to a very surprising yet satisfying conclusion.  Fans of the genre will want to grab a glass of rosé while reading this enjoyable beginning to the Penelope Kite series.

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Filed under Death in Provence, Harper, Penelope Kite Series, Rated C+, Serena Kent