Brett has also written the Fethering mysteries featuring uptight Carole and 'healer' Jude, amateur lady detectives at a South Coast resort including Blood at the Bookies, the Corpse on the Court and Bones Under the Beach Hut, and the Blotto Twinks series of thriller meets P G Wodehouse including Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera. But the Charles Paris books are my favourites.
Charles is an ageing actor wedded to a bottle of Bells whisky and his estranged wife. After eight months resting he gets two jobs in a week. The first is a day filming body parts in close up for wallpaper for a documentary on the Battle of Naseby with a washed up director, a cameraman and a girl who does make up, props, catering and sleeps with the director. His second job is as the Ghost in a touring production of Hamlet starring the winner of a singing contest as Hamlet and the winner of a talent show as Ophelia. From the outset there is tension between the real actors and the stars (who effectively run the show, telling the director what to do). Then accidents start to happen.
I love these books because of the hero's cynical take on life and his career. He may be a luvvy but by goodness he works hard at his craft, when he isn't sabotaging his own performance with a little too much whisky before the show. I adore the way Brett peppers uncomplimentary reviews throughout ("as much backbone as spaghetti") and the way he strips the glamour from the profession ("It is a fact that all actors love gibbering parts ... There's nothing actors like better than being deformed and gibbering on stage .... There are even Oscars in it .... Daniel Day Lewis and Dustin Hoffman have done very well out of gibbering. And then again, coming back to basics, playing people who gibber is so much easier than playing real people.") And poor old Charles is really rather a dinosaur: he has a lot of trouble remembering that the feminists have decreed that actresses should now be called actors (though "he refused to think of them as 'actors' if he was going to bed with them") and that women are no longer the opposite sex but the complementary sex.
Deliciously grubby but still a good whodunnit. February 2015; 202 pages
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57