The Marseille Caper – Peter Mayle

Sam Levitt is hired to front a bid to develop a highly desirable piece of ground in Marseille, competing with two syndicates for the prize. Inevitably, there are dirty tricks in the offing and everything is not what it seems.

This is a light novel in every sense of the word; it’s short, the characters lack depth, the plot is even shallower, and you will struggle to find any passion or harsh emotion – with one notable exception to which I will return. However, on the flip side, the writing is light, too, so it is easy to read, makes no demands of you, and trots along quite merrily.

If there is passion here, it’s in the food and drink. The author takes great delight in name dropping restaurants, as well as detailing meals, wines, and the like. It’s almost as if he was doing a promotional piece for the establishments. (I cannot be bothered checking all of them, but one random place from the book, which I did check, certainly exists.) Indeed, there’s more marketing of the meat than there is meat in the content of the book, if you get my drift.

It’s pleasant and inoffensive; probably the ultimate in holiday reading. This guy must be well connected, because I cannot see a new author being let loose on the reading public with something as lacking in substance as this.

Score: 4/10