Death in Provence: A Penelope Kite Novel (Paperback)

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This is book number 1 in the Penelope Kite series.

Staff Reviews

British divorcee Penelope Kite decides to get away from it all and retire to the south of France, where she finds Le Chant d’Eau—The Song of Water—a stone farmhouse with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. She falls in love with the property and decides, with the help of a local realtor, to make an offer despite the property's title being tied up in something fishy. When she finds out the house is hers, she relocates quickly, eager to renovate and create her little slice of heaven. But when she finds a body floating in her swimming pool on her first morning, she knows she might be involved in something tricky. Fortunately, as a former staff member for a forensic pathologist, Penelope is no stranger to crime, and sets out to help the police in any way she can.... Perfect for fans of Peter Mayle, this mystery full of small-town politics, an evocative Provencal setting, and vibrant characters was an absolute bonbon of a first novel. I'm so happy to know this is the first in a new series  - I can't wait to read the next installment! - McKenna

— From McKenna's Staff Picks


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.

About the Author

Serena Kent is the nom de plume of Deborah Lawrenson and her husband Robert Rees. They met at Cambridge University and pursued completely different careers, she in journalism and fiction; he in banking and music. They live in a house full of books in England, and an old hamlet in Provence which is also in dire need of more bookshelves.

Praise For…

“Riffing on Peter Mayle and his year in Provence—as well as Alexander McCall Smith and his Ladies’ Detective Agency—this is the first in a breezy mystery series set among the vineyards and olive groves of the Luberon.”
National Geographic

“Peter Mayle fans will enjoy this first novel and series opener.”
Publishers Weekly

“Penelope sparkles, turning what could have been a lightweight Shirley Temple into champagne. Although Kent makes no promises, updates on her heroine’s further adventures would be most welcome. “

“Charming.... While the quirky characters are enjoyable, it’s the details of the details of Provençal life that will attract armchair travelers, fans of Peter Mayle.”
Library Journal

“As scenic murders go, it’s hard to beat the dead man floating in the swimming pool of Le Chant d’Eau, a stone farmhouse hilltop-high in Death in Provence…. Who could resist a vacation in Provence?”
New York Times Book Review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062869869
ISBN-10: 0062869868
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 25th, 2020
Pages: 368
Language: English
Series: Penelope Kite