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The Marseille Caper Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 6, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 150 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* “Totally fun” may not the deepest, most original way to describe the pleasure of Britisher Mayle’s latest joyous novel set in his adopted homeland, the delightful French region of Provence. But it’s an honest description. (His string of best-sellers started, of course, with A Year in Provence, 1990.) This new one brings back American sleuth Sam Levitt, fresh off the wine-theft case presented in The Vintage Caper (2009), this time getting deliciously involved in a development plan for an undeveloped plot of land along the Marseille coast of France. The thing is, one of the three finalists bidding on the development project won’t reveal his identity because of past bad feelings between him and the chair of the committee that will choose the winning project. So Sam is being asked to fill in as the presenter to pitch the anonymous contender’s plan to the committee. Sound simple? Well, of course, as straightforward as this basic switcheroo may seem on the surface, difficulties arise as competition goes way beyond cutthroat to become potentially fatal. This is sophisticated writing without a snobby tone (and that may be a more satisfactory description). HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A large print run indicates that the publisher is aware of and responsive to the author’s great popularity. --Brad Hooper


“Oh, what a delicious little book this is…like an excellent meal at a beloved restaurant, you’ll savor every morsel, and you’ll be sorry to see it end.”
            -The Denver Post
“Peter Mayle . . . whisk[s] you away on another wine-splashed, sun-kissed Provençal escapade in his delightful new Sam Levitt novel, The Marseille Caper.”
            -The Washington Post

 “Totally fun…This is sophisticated writing without a snobby tone.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030759419X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307594198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I usually enjoy Peter Mayles books from the South of France, but I found this one a bit trite. It is just a bit too much at times. The word "delight" and "delightful" is used too often, the Southern European men are a bit too sugary, the ladies a bit too "French," the whole thing reads almost like a caricature of the real thing. Perhaps the problem is that Mayle himself has got too rich and famous, too far removed from how most people live in that part of the world. Parts of the story also seem a bit unbelievable. One example: Why does the Bad Guy's financial survival hinge on getting the go-ahead for a huge real estate project? Such projects are inherently very risky and require even more debt to complete - quite the opposite of what most banks would want when one of their borrowers is already overly leveraged. And why would the protagonist be picked to market a real estate project on the other side of the world?!? The only obvious answers to these questions is that these conditions are introduced purely for literary purposes. No. Mayle would be better off returning to his roots and writing about regular life in the South of France, about events that actually happen or at least likely could happen.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The oh so simple, oh so flowing narrative of another tale from Peter Mayle flows across the storyboard of our mind like a long lunch on the terrace overlooking the bright blue Mediterranean, the glasses of velvety red wine coming in unhurried succession, the beauty of our companion delighting our eye, the wittiness of our guests amusing our sensibility. The story centers on shady doings in a sunny place, a trophy real estate development in the ancient city of Marseille, the old port city in the south of France in transition to seaside playground for the new wealth--all under the radiant blue sky of the south of France.

There are the beautifully crafted archetypes: the trophy women with trimly toned arms and curves in sensuous strain against light summer dresses, tailored deal makers in silk shirts and charcoal gray pinstriped suits, and all the expensive toys of those for whom too much is never enough--the Gulfstream jets, the waiting black limousines, the lush villas, the loyal retainers, yachts with helicopters sitting on the stern--all the trappings that go with the soft corruption underlying high-end success in our finance-powered super-society.

Here and there, a small bistro at the end of a stonewalled street just up from the Old Port, the bougainvillea in full bloom, provides a welcome break from uber-conspicuous consumption with a tasty dish of seafood from Old Marseille. No one quite so successfully juxtaposes the timeless joys of epicurean life against the crassness of modern commercial life as well as Mayle; he beautifully describes to provide the distance of perspective.

The named vintages parade across the tables, the delectable French food is presented in beautiful italicized French phrases--no pommes frites ici aujourd'hui!
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Mayle demonstrates in THE MARSEILLE CAPER that thrillers can be fun. This latest installment in his quietly offbeat Sam Levitt series is the perfect novel for those readers of mysteries and thrillers who find the current trend toward dark and violent prose and situations somewhat off-putting. Mayle, always a smart writer, has written a tale that holds interest from beginning to end while keeping violence to a minimum --- if memory serves, there isn't even a fatality during the course of the book --- and characterization to the maximum.

THE MARSEILLE CAPER opens with Levitt somewhat surprised and startled by the approach of a past nemesis. A charming and lovable rogue for hire, Levitt (in THE VINTAGE CAPER) stole a priceless wine collection from a wealthy collector named Francis Reboul, who himself had stolen the vintage bottles from Levitt's client. When encountering Reboul in Los Angeles, Levitt initially thinks that his former adversary is out for revenge. What Reboul wants is anything but. He respects quality work, and Levitt is one of the best at what he does. Reboul wants to retain Levitt for a job in Marseille. There is an oceanside project that is up for bids, and Reboul has the perfect plan but cannot present it himself. To get around that little detail, he wants Levitt to function as a straw man, presenting the project as his own.

An additional problem is that the chairman who is overseeing the selection of the project has an obvious favorite, that being an Englishman named Lord William Wapping.
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Format: Hardcover
Save your time and money. I have read many of Mr Mayles books and have enjoyed Hotel Pastis the Provence books. This book is boring the characters have no depth the dialogue between them is dull. It is only the fact that I paid $13.79 for this book that I'm finishing it. Even the descriptions of Marseille are dull. It reads as if he needed to produce a book so he did..but without joy or enjoyment. The book is outdated...not in a retro style but just old. The clothes they are wearing what they say...a bad time capsule...but from when and why?? Sorry Mr Mayle you can do better.
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