Joan Collin’s latest could have easily been called Murder in St. Tropez since the topic of the novel is about a murder among the rich. But those expecting a classic whodunit will be highly disappointed. THE ST. TROPEZ LONELY HEARTS CLUB (now out in paperback from Constable) is rather a sexually-charged roman-à-clef that never lingers too much on character development or intricate plot twists. It is a sort of homage to the work of Harold Robbins, Barney Leason, and her late sis Jackie Collins whom she dedicates her work to.
The plot is rather simple: when a bunch of colorful jet-setters gather at a billionaire’s home in the south of France to celebrate the beginning of the party season tragedy strikes. One highly-sought guest succumbs to a planned food poisoning. Who’s the culprit? In comes a reputed father and daughter detective team to help us figure it out. During the course of the investigation, we discover what makes these people tick, what irks them (a lot, it seems) but also what makes them swoon (money, power, sex, mostly). We also discover that Dame Collins knows a thing or two about smut. And therein lies the strength of THE ST. TROPEZ LONELY HEARTS CLUB, the way it always comes back to that topic. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The novel is like spying on your hot next door neighbour doing it. Even though you know better, you just can’t help linger for a while.
Another plus factor is the author’s surprisingly wicked sense of humor. More than once does the reader find himself smiling, even chuckling, at the many zany situations or bawdy dialogue between rivals. They even help digest the many coital moments in between. Moreover, the author’s keen eye approach for promoting the many hip places around St. Tropez is always interesting; sort of like reading Michelin Green Guide, or St. Tropez for Dummies, if you will. As for her people, most are over-the-top but never boring, exactly as THE ST. TROPEZ LONELY HEARTS CLUB should be.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Until next post—Martin