Luciano Bennett, known primarily as Bennett, is bored and unemployed in the small Provencal town of Saint-Martin. After placing an ad in the local newspaper, he comes across a very wealthy and dubious fellow named Mr. Poe. Mr. Poe propositions Bennett to pretend to be him and live in Monaco for 6 months. Sounds easy enough, right? It is unless you factor in a stolen case worth millions of dollars, a love affair, the mafia and police-force all bundled together into the deal.
I thought this book was incredibly improbably and ridiculous. All of the characters were very cliché and expected. None of them were particularly likeable, the plot was predictable and it was filled with so many clichés, my head was swimming. Despite all of that, I kind of enjoyed this book. It’s like a campy parody of James Bond novels/movies. I think it was would make for a great movie. The locations themselves sell the book. Monaco, Provence, Ibiza, need I say more?
Bennett and the love interest Anna make for an interesting pair, what with her being armed with years of experience from the army and Bennett armed with a highly stylized sense of humor and sarcasm. They put so many innocent lives in danger through their actions, although I have to say that this book is not graphic, violently or sexually in any way. It’s very vanilla in those regards. It’s mostly a very dramatic what-if scenario with lots of funny one-liners.
Peter Mayle is also the author of the incredibly funny memoir of his life in Provence, A Year in Provence. I absolutely loved his memoir, so if you’re not sure about reading his work, start with the memoir!