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Crime caper doubles as food guide

Once a high-flying advertising executive, Peter Mayle tired of the business and the transatlantic commuting that came with it and, in 1974, resigned and moved to the south of France to write.

He started with a number of educational books, including a children's series on sex education. His first bestseller, co-authored with illustrator Grey Joliffe, was Man's Best Friend: Introducing Wicked Willie, featuring the hugely comic if lightly scabrous dialogue between a man and his penis, Wicked Willie, which was published in 1984.

Three years later he hit the literary jackpot with the highly amusing A Year in Provence which charted the highs and lows of a British expatriate relocating to a sleepy village in 'la France profound'. It has sold in its millions and made him famous around the world.

There were sequels about his life in Provence -- but these days he's writing thrillers.

The Marseille Caper is the second in a series of lighthearted crime escapades featuring the roguish American sleuth extraordinaire Sam Levitt.

Sam, now living in LA with the delightful insurance adjuster Elena Morales, is rather alarmed when immensely wealthy French mogul Francis Reboul, from whom he had liberated a cellar of rare wines on his previous case, contacts him.

But Reboul, who recognises talent when he sees it, wants Sam to impersonate a colleague at a hugely important competition to build a vast leisure resort on the outskirts of Marseille.

Sam and Elena can't resist the pleasures of France and suddenly find themselves in the middle of serious intrigue and not a little danger.

As light and airy as a French soufflé, The Marseille Caper is a thoroughly enjoyable romp that happily doubles as a tourist guide to the best bars, restaurants and Bouillabaisse in Provence.

Myles McWeeney

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