You may know of Simon Brett through his radio and television scripts (After Henry) or even through his recent cozy crime fiction Fethering series, featuring retired public servant Carole Seddon and her offsider Jude.
But have you ever met Charles Paris, actor, dipsomaniac, married to a very prim and proper headmistress of a girls school? I began my love affair with him sometime in 1985.
CAST IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE was published in 1975 and was Brett's debut novel.
Here is the blurb courtesy of Fantastic Fiction:
- Who killed Marius Steen, the theatrical tycoon with a fortune to leave his young mistress Jacqui? And who killed Bill Sweet, the shady blackmailer with a supply of compromising photographs? Charles Paris, a middle-aged actor who keeps going on booze and women, takes to detection in Cast, In Order of Disappearance, by assuming a variety of roles, among them that of a Scotland Yard Detective-Sergeant, and the results are both comic and dramatic. As the mythical McWhirter of the Yard, he actually precipitates the crime; as one of the blackmailer's victims, he finds himself in bed with the blackmailer's wife; as a small-part player in a horror film (The Zombie Walks), he gets shot at by a murderer. And he arrives at the solution by way of the petrol crisis and an abortive attack of the German measles. It's a light-hearted frolic that is, at the same time, a beautifully ingenious puzzle, and it fizzes with fun and wit.
1. Cast in Order of Disappearance (1975)
2. So Much Blood (1976)
3. Star Trap (1977)
4. An Amateur Corpse (1978)
5. A Comedian Dies (1979)
6. The Dead Side of the Mike (1980)
7. Situation Tragedy (1981)
8. Murder Unprompted (1982)
9. Murder in the Title (1983)
10. Not Dead, Only Resting (1984)
11. Dead Giveaway (1985)
12. What Bloody Man is That (1987)
13. A Series of Murders (1989)
14. Corporate Bodies (1991)
15. A Reconstructed Corpse (1993)
16. Sicken and So Die (1995)
17. Dead Room Farce (1997)
If you check in my side bar you'll find Simon Brett listed in my favourite authors. If I find a book of his that I haven't read, then I know it is safe to buy it.
At present I'm waiting for the 10th in the Fethering series to come my way
Here's how I have rated the series so far
1. The Body on the Beach (2000)
2. Death On the Downs (2001)
3. The Torso In The Town (2002)
4. Murder in the Museum (2003), 4.5
5. The Hanging in the Hotel (2004), 5.0
6. The Witness at the Wedding (2005), 4.7
7. The Stabbing in the Stables (2006), 4.3
8. Death Under the Dryer (2007), 4.3
9. Blood At the Bookies (2008), 4.4
10. The Poisoning in the Pub (2009)
They're not perfect, just lovely, gentle, relatively uncomplicated reads in a true cozy tradition!
I love the Charles Paris mystery series. It's been some years since I read any of them, and as I'm not a great record-keeper, I annoyingly can't be a completist, because I don't know which ones I haven't read. I suppose I should just begin again.
I was never all that interested in the non-Charles Paris ones, though that's sheer prejudice. But there was something in the Charles Paris character himself, and his never ending actor's quest that was very compelling. And funny.
Bill Nighy of Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually fame stars as Charles Paris on the radio.
He always seems to be cast in crime dramas, for some reason?
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