After a lengthy gap, actor Charles Paris makes a welcome return to the stage. He has secured the two roles of The Ghost and First Gravedigger in a touring production of Hamlet ("Prior to West End"), set up to exploit the popularity of two reality-show winners, cast as Hamlet and Ophelia. Nothing, of course, goes according to plan, and murder soon rears its ugly head. Charles once again finds himself investigating homicide...
Since leaving Charles Paris behind several years ago Simon Brett has busied himself with the Fethering Mysteries (tolerable) and the Blotto and Twinks series (less so). nothing has matched the strength of his early Charles Paris novels, and A Decent Interval is a welcome return. Nothing has changed. Charles magically hasn't aged much since last we saw him. He still lives in the same bedsit, he still drinks too much, he's still overdrawn at the bank and he still keeps meaning to telephone his estranged wife, Frances. And he still uses his old investigative technique: go around accusing everybody of murder until there's no-one left except the real killer. Well, nobody ever said he was Maigret.
Brett still creates an all-too believable world, where Charles and his type are yesterday's men, no longer needed in the brash new world, where the MTV generation has even taken over Shakespeare. Characters are more than caricatures, and the theatrical background is well-observed. If this isn't the best Charles Paris mystery it is, at least, well up to standard, although a tell-tale clue is, in this writer's opinion, rather clumsily introduced. But that hardly matters. What matters is that Simon Brett's finest creation is back. Let's hope he's back to stay.
It's good to be back on tour with the curmudgeonly Charles Paris once more after what seems more like an "indecent interval". Once again his theatrical touring is marred by murder (a possible title for the other Simon Brett series?) Here, we are amongst the winners of some television talent shows who have, improbably, been shoehorned into a touring production of Hamlet; there is the usual mayhem and murder with much whisky being consumed. I recognised some of these "fictional" characters or at least thought I did. If you are an aficionado of police procedurals then this book is not for you. If on the other hand you like to lightly and well entertained, then buy a copy of A Decent Interval.
Charles Paris is back! After a break of several years during which he has concentrated on his Fethering series of novels (with alliterative titles such as "The Body on the Beach" and "Murder in the Museum"), Simon Brett has returned to Charles Paris, the down-at-heel and rather mediocre journeyman actor who is, to my mind, his finest creation.
In this outing Charles lands a part (well, two parts, actually) in a production of Hamlet which is scheduled for a tour of provincial theatres around England before a hopefully triumphant run in London's West End. Charles is gratified to have the roles of The Ghost and the First Gravedigger, and is looking forward to an enjoyable spell of work. The title role is, however, to be taken by Jared Root, recent winner of a reality TV singing competition (clearly modelled on the X Factor) while Ophelia is to be played by Katrina Selsey who had landed the part as her prize for winning a similar television competition.
It soon becomes clear that Jared Root can't act at all, while Katrina Selsey has delusions of stardom way beyond her as yet untested talent. Just before the opening night in Marlborough, first stop on the provincial run of the production, part of the stage set falls down, seriously wounding Root. And then Katrina Selsey dies under strange circumstances. Charles decides to investigate.
The Charles Paris novels are always amusing, filled with Brett's insight into the trials and tribulations of an actor's life (exacerbated by Charles's relentless drinking). This latest in the series is well up to standard, and proved most enjoyable.
Charles Paris, middle-aged jobbing actor, has survived a time shift in this continuation of the marvelous series of books from Simon Brett. Although it is clearly only months since Charles contacted his ex-, Frances, the book takes place some (pure guess) 15 years after the previous one, Charles now being lost in modern world of mobiles and apps, but it doesn't matter, the continuity of the character ensures that this is just as enjoyable as all of the other titles in the series - a Decent Interval indeed. The radio version, you may have heard, uses Bill Nighy as the voice of Charles and for once that is perfect, I suspect that I heard Bill's voice as Charles long before I heard the radio plays. Interesting insights from the world of theatre and TV enliven a very amusing British sleuth series where Charles gets it wrong (plot spoiler?) more often than he gets it right, but then that's Charles... A further strength is that each title can be read completely independently from any other unlike many of the modern Crime series of books where your knowledge of the main character is informed by every other previous book in the series.
I was delighted to renew my acquaintance with Charles Paris - still an alcoholic, still meaning to get back together with his unfortunate wife. In this fine mystery Charles is offered two small pieces of work. First, a one-day job with a director who was a legendary figure in the 1960s, but now for all his talent he is almost forgotten. And then a minor role in 'Hamlet'. Unfortunately, the hero and Ophelia are to be played by two young celebrities, who are only interested in promoting themselves and show up very badly when surrounded by professionals. When the boorish young man playing Hamlet is injured the part goes to a nearly unknown outsider (Sam) who, Charles senses, is a true genius. Unfortunately this means little in a world where the media is dominated by mediocrities. Simon Brett thinks that an awful lot of fine actors never reach the top spot; that is reserved for people who have powerful friends and know how to put themselves about. I'm not sure if this is invariably true (for instance, Timothy West really IS a great actor), but it is near enough the truth to be depressing. The ending is sad, but believable.
Simon Brett never fails to amuse, he is one of those writers (for me) who causes me to struggle to suppress the laughter when reading on the bus or other public place and I don't always succeed. Naturally, having worked in theatre I recognize so many of his characters, but for those of you who haven't believe it - it's all true (except for the dead bodies of course, the odd dead drunk yes, but not homicide.
It's so good to see the return of Charles Paris --- but I would like to find him in a better frame of mind. To me he is more 'real' than any other fictional characters ---- and I care about him. All the books in the series are funny, (and sad) as well as being jolly good mysteries.
Love this character and it's been ages since his last book. Excellent read though probably not his best as there are only so many stories Brett can write about murders in the theatre world, still would highly recommend it to Brett's Charles Paris' fans