As enjoyable as any other Simon Brett. However, I have returned this book for a refund. Do not buy the Kindle version; the reason I have given it one star is because the conversion/scan is so bad. Lots of superfluous commas and apostrophes; often, the number 1 is appears instead of the personal pronoun 'I'; lots of other awkward typos. Amazon, please do soemthing about it.
Charles Paris, world weary roué and never quite anywhere near making it actor, though always hopeful that something wonderful is just around the corner, may not be a particularly brilliant thespian, but he is a particularly astute investigator.
Murder and mayhem follow him everywhere, and no doubt many a thesp, on signing a contract, and learning Paris is to be of the company, turns pale and asks their agent to get them released, pronto, as the body count is high, wherever he works - a fellow performer is sure to depart this life by violent and unnatural means.
Author Simon Brett created, in Paris, a character and a world that translates brilliantly from page to radio. . And just which actor might you think would do world weary, dissipated roué, with intelligence and almost inexplicable faded allure, despite penury and an obvious drink problem, to perfection? Why the wonderful Bill Nighy of course, his rumpled, laid-back, rueful delivery relishing every bit of loucheness allowed
Brett has his jobbing-oh-if-only-it-was-that-simple-to-find-one actor exploring the murderous in any number of actorish settings, from West End to commercial, from radio to rep. In this particular story, Paris long-sufferingly gets tied up with a group of exceedingly pretentious am-drams, out-experimental theatre-ing even the most experimental. All in pursuit of a typical Paris could rags become riches pipe-dream - a test voiceover pitch which if it happens, might yield reasonable dosh, done privately for a fellow friend and old soak from the past. Murder, of course, soon appears, along with Paris's long suffering on off relationship with his ex-wife and his usual sometimes half-hearted attempts at seductions.
Far from being a hackneyed and predictable series, Charles Paris continues to delight. This of course is as much down to the brilliance of Nighy in the role, as it is to the rather dreadful, but nonetheless loveable ham Brett created.
Sterling fun is had by a ripping cast, relishing the other entourage of staple characters who are part of Paris's social circle - notably Geraldine McEwan as Charles' dotty-and-drink-besotted Mum (alcohol clearly runs in Parisian veins!), Suzanne Burden as Frances, Paris's on-off-on-off long-suffering wife, and a particularly fine, wittily relished performance by Jon Glover as Charles's agent, Maurice. 2 CD set, 4 episodes, each running 30 minutes. Enjoyable production with fine sound effects and music adding to the atmosphere
May Charles Paris continue to find corpses a plenty, foully dispatched!
In Simon Brett's "An Amateur Corpse" (1978) boozy actor Charles Paris does a bit of voice-over work for an advertising agency, but otherwise he is busy being a dabbler in sleuthing. His friend Hugo is drinking too much and is distraught over what he thinks is the faithlessness of his beautiful wife Charlotte. "Husband and wife lived in a state of domestic apartheid." Hugo gets Charles involved with an amateur theater group, the Backstagers, in Breckton where Charlotte is acting. The group wants professional actor Charles to critique their performance of Chekhov's "The Seagull." In a diplomatic way he tries to tell them that they are really bad, and, of course, they don't want to hear it. Charlotte is found murdered in the woodshed, Hugo gets charged, and Charles is off and running trying to find out whodunit to save his friend. He's half-heartedly aided by his solicitor friend Gerald Venables, who should be more interested since Hugo is his client. In this one Charles seems more on the ball as a detective and actually follows the clues unlike his usual trial and error process. He has a habit of zeroing in on one suspect only to find that the person has to be dropped because of an alibi. As he juggles his suspects, he also keeps topping off his alcohol level throughout. The theater group are an oddball group that gives Brett a chance for some humorous jabs, but on the whole this is not one of his books that features much comedy. As usual Brett displays his knowledge of all facets of show business. In his mysteries he's a master of narration, plotting, dialogue, and characterization. Charles is 50 in this one, and estranged wife Frances is not featured. Brett is light reading, and his books effortlessly breeze along which is great for readers who don't want to deal with anything too intense. Charles, unlike some series detectives, ages from book to book, and our only fear is that he'll drink himself to death at too early an age.
This is a gentle, cosy little murder mystery lifted above average by the stellar addition of not only Bill Nighy but also the one and only, fabby-dabby Geraldine McEwan. The running time of 2 hours doesn't allow for much in the way of complexity of plotting but it's really the gentle humour in this that's the important thing rather than the mystery.
Bill Nighy plays out-of-work actor Charles Paris who, through his friendship with Hugo (Paul Ritter), gets sucked firstly into the mahvelous-dahling world of am-dram and then into the investigation of a murder. Geraldine McEwan gives a lovely performance as Charles' mother, part dotty old lady, part leftover wild child from the bohemian world of the Swinging Sixties. The other cast members are excellent too and the script is typical BBC4 comedy time fare - unchallenging but amusing. A very pleasant way to spend two hours - recommended.