Having just turned 50, architect Jordan Mayfair takes her uncle up on his invitation to travel with him to Provence. Hoping the Provençal food, wines, and Frenchmen will take her mind off things, she loses her suitcase on the train (or was it stolen?), survives a hit-and-run that seems too close, arrives in a village thrown into upheaval by missing van Gogh sketches, and senses that she is being followed across the French countryside. As the holiday takes an even darker turn, Jordan realizes that she may have been thrown into the middle of a hunt for a missing Elvis Presley master tape—a chase that may have been started by her own family. VERDICT Gobbell's debut shows the deadly side of the pursuit of art and how family and friends may not always have your best interests at heart. The slower pace may appeal to those who prefer to absorb the setting instead of looking for the next bit of action.
A vacation in Provence turns deadly. Jordan Mayfair is a widow, an architect and the mother of five. Foreseeing an empty nest, she's delighted to accompany her uncle Alexander Carlyle, who writes travel books, to Provence for a long-delayed vacation. Things go wrong from the start when Alex misplaces his passport and they miss their direct flight to Paris. Rushing off the commuter train in Brussels, Jordan forgets her suitcase, and when she goes back for it, the man in the compartment ignores her as the train pulls out. In Paris, they have dinner with Felicity, Jordan's sorority sister, and Barry Blake, a Nashville entrepreneur. Jordan disconcertingly glimpses the same cowboy on the street she'd seen at the train station. The next day, he's killed in a hit-and-run. After a shopping trip to replenish her wardrobe, Jordan and Alex take the train to the lovely town of Fontvieille and check into L'hôtel du Soleil. They enjoy the historical sites, stunning countryside and delightful meals, but Jordan's luggage is ransacked, and she's blindsided when Felicity and Barry suddenly arrive in town. Barry's soon shot dead in his hotel room, pictures are stolen from a local museum, and Jordan suspects she's being followed. Her chance meeting with Paul Broussard, the wealthy, handsome patron of the museum, carries her off to a romantic dinner in Paris, but now she's uncertain whom she can trust. Jordan finally learns from her daughter's boyfriend, who worked for Barry, that Barry asked him to slip something utterly unexpected into her missing luggage. Now Jordan knows why she's being followed, but only a sleuthing American lady she befriends at the hotel stands between her and terrible danger. Gobbell's debut, first in a planned series, combines mystery, informative travelogue and enjoyable characters with just a few too many red herrings.
"...refreshing debut... seasoned with humor and evocative descriptions of magnificent historic sites, this whodunit should appeal to fans of both cozies and traditional mysteries."
"Gobbell brings the Provence backdrop to vivid life while dropping enough clues to keep readers focused on the mystery involved."
-Booklist *starred review*
"A vacation in Provence turns deadly.... Gobbell's debut combines mystery, informative travelogue and enjoyable characters..."