Charles Paris is, as ever, waiting for a phone call from his agent, and is driven to painting and decorating to make ends meet.
A rare evening out at a high-profile restaurant among stars of stage and screen promises a break in the depressing routine. But when the restaurant’s handsome, temperamental chef is brutally murdered, Charles finds himself drawn into the ensuing investigation.
At first it seems an open and shut case: the chef’s partner is in France within hours of having a spectacular quarrel with him over a pretty youth. Yet as Charles’ inquiries take him into the feuds and jealousies of his own profession, both murder and motive are anything but obvious.
Just this side of unpleasantly anti-LGBT mockery, ridiculously stereotypical; Charles is not biased against "gays", apparently; the archaic terminology proves he is - but the transposition of Edwards and Mac Liammóir from Dublin to London is effective and amusing; a famous theatrical gay marriage of longstanding, portrayed with more understanding than any other relationship in this novel.
Otherwise the primitive attitudes of Monique and Ives's parents now seem merely silly in 2016; stereotypes of "camp" gay men are about as acceptable as "n" jokes - only as self mockery within the community.
There is however a classic amateur detective novel with our less than competent Charles Paris, generally out of his head on cooking whisky, stuff I wouldn't even put in a black bun, overestimating his sex appeal as usual. Women are rated by physical attractiveness- so maybe gay men do better on the measure of humanity.
This was a guilty pleasure- some characters enjoyable, most not. Stereotypes if not overdone are reassuring in a bedtime story. I like the updated Paris on Radio 4 much more - times have changed and women and LGBT people cannot be described in such throwaway lines.