This first book in the Bennett sister mysteries focuses on the oldest sister, Merle. The five Bennett sisters are all lawyers, but each sister is very different from the others, even in terms of the type of law they practice. Merle discovers that her life is not what she thought it was upon the death of her husband. Amidst the turmoil of those months after his death she discovers that he has left her a home in France that had been in his family for several generations. Needing the money, Merle and her teenage son Tristan fly to France to check the house out and get it ready to sell.
Nothing is as expected in France. The village is very small and not welcoming. The house needs a great deal of work and has a squatter living in it that the police will not help remove, and Merle’s French leaves much to be desired. Thank goodness for the neighbor across the alley, Albert, a retired Priest who takes a shine to Merle and her son. Soon there are workers arriving each morning to get the house in shape and Merle steals time in the day to work on some of her husband’s genealogy. Unfortunately, the squatter is murdered and the police think Merle did it. Her passport is confiscated and she is given direct orders not to leave the village. Her son and the workmen find a dead body buried in the walls of the outhouse and she may be falling in love with her roofer.
This is in my mind a cozy mystery. The setting is of course romantic, a quaint French village with a long history of wine making and recovering from the war. The characters are three dimensional and interesting. There are a couple of mysteries: who is the squatter, how did the house get passed down through the generations, where did the wine come from, and what kind of man did she marry? A light, fun who-did-what-when read good for the beach or a weekend by the pool.