Brett, Simon – The Clutter Corpse
Kindle & Hardback: 192 pages (February 2020)
Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd; (trade paperback & cased), Severn House Digital (Kindle)
ISBN: 978-1780291246 (cased)
Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for the eARC.
This a new character for Simon Brett and I didn’t warm as immediately as I have done to the others. That said she does have a solid character backdrop which provides a good basis for future character and plot development.
This is not as cosy as some of his other mystery series with more dark humour than we are used to.
I would recommend as a good read although, at the moment, I do prefer some of Simon Brett’s other series – especially Charles Paris & Mrs Pargeter.
This is the 20th of the Charles Paris novels by Simon Brett and is published four years after the last one (THE CINDERELLA KILLER) – please can we get these more regularly!
Charles Paris has landed a small part in a new West End play, The Habit of Faith but his delight at a 3-month paying job is tempered by the discovery that his good fortune has been orchestrated by his much more successful contemporary Justin Grover who is now the star of a major film series. But why has Grover become involved in this relatively obscure production and why has he roped in Charles to star?
From the outset the production is fraught with difficulties -and matters become even more complicated when a body is discovered at the foot of the dressing room stairs – was it a fall or was it a push?
As one of the last people to have seen the victim alive, Charles Paris’ natural curiosity finds him drawn into the ensuing investigation where he discovers that more than one person involved in the play has a scandalous secret to hide …
As usual I read this very quickly as I do for most Simon Brett books. Both the murder aspect and the comedy aspect are well handled but the focus here is much more on Charles and his belated attempts to grow up, get sober and get back with his wife Frances. This latter aspect gives us some stronger comedic aspects on the world of theatre, the sobriety business and the extent to while Charles can delude himself.
It is not too much of a spoiler to say for those of us who like Charles there is again a hint of sunlight in his relationship with his wife Frances.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley and bought a signed copy at CrimeFest.
Publisher: Creme de la Crime (trade paperback & cased), Severn House Digital (Kindle)
ISBN: 978-1-78029-101-7 (cased)
978-1-78029-508-4 (trade paper)
THE LIAR IN THE LIBRARY is the 18th of the Fethering series of novels by Simon Brett.
Successful author Burton St Clair has been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library. Knowing that his old friend Jude lives in the area he invites her to come along although they haven’t met for twenty years. Jude quickly finds that St Clair hasn’t changed and is still very much a ladies man with an overly large ego and a shaky relationship with the truth.
Jude didn’t suspect that the evening would end in sudden violent death (although she should have at least suspected that it might have given her previous investigations with her friend Carole).
Jude finds that, because of evidence from St Clairs ex-wife about an alleged affair that Jude had with St Clair, that she has become the main suspect. So she has to enlist the help of her neighbour to solve the murder so she does not get arrested for committing it.
As with the previous Fethering novels you get a good solid character driven novel in an interesting milieu with characters who are believable if perhaps a teensy bit over the top and an interesting whodunit at its heart although you don’t get a key clue as to motive until quite some time into the novel.
This is a nice traditional cozy mystery with just a little bit of dark humour and I would recommend as a nice light read although I personally do prefer Simon Bretts other 3 series (Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter and Blotto & Twinks).
My copy was provided by the publishers, Severn House, via Netgalley.
Mrs Pargeter’s Public Relations by Simon Brett (2016)
This is the 8th of the Mrs Melita Pargeter novels by Simon Brett and is published just 2 years after the last one (MRS PARGETER’S PRINCIPLE).
Mrs Pargeters generosity gets the better of her when she accompanies her friend, Jasmine Angold, to a charity reception for PhiliPussies – a charity that seeks to rehabilitate stray cats from the Greek island of Atmos into caring English homes. There is a shock for Mrs Pargeter when she meets a woman who claims to be the sister of her late husband. This meeting leads to some unwelcome digging into past secrets, a body being found in Epping Fores and an eventful trip to Greece.
The two main parts of the enjoyment of a Mrs Pargeter book are still here – the light comedy and the characters. The associates of the late Mr Pargeter (and now their children) are realistic up to a point but they have a light comic twist whilst Mrs Melita Pargeter herself is a force of nature who has huge loyalty to her late husband’s memory although she might just be suspecting more now that not everything he did was entirely within the letter of the law.
I was less convinced about the plot this time (the device that can beat all electronic and mechanical locks was more than a bit hard to believe in) and the violence level is higher than has been usual for this series. I still like it but not as much as I did its predecessors.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for a review copy.
THE KILLING IN THE CAFE is the 17th of the Fethering series of novels by Simon Brett.
Polly’s Cake Shop has been a feature in Fethering for many years but when its current owner announces her retirement, the residents worry about the loss of this popular amenity and alarmed by the rumours circulating they form the Save Polly’s Cake Shop Action Committee. Their plan is that the cake shop should become a community venture which is both managed and run by volunteers from the village. Jude is roped in to help by one of her clients and finds the committee meetings fraught with petty power struggles and clashing personalities & egos.
Carole and Jude discover a badly-decomposed body on Fethering beach and uncover a link to Polly’s – now they have to find out whodunit.
Like all of the Fethering novels I have read what you get here is a good solid character driven novel in an interesting milieu with characters who are believable if a little bit over the top.
Again there isn’t a strong whodunit here – pick the character who is most out of place and that is your killer BUT this is a nice traditional cozy mystery with just a little bit of dark humour and I will continue with the series.
My copy was provided by the publishers, Severn House, via Netgalley.
Simon Brett – The Tomb in Turkey: a Fethering Mystery
Hardback: 192 pages (November 2014 –UK, March 2015 – US)
Publisher: Creme de la Crime
ISBN: 978-1780290690 (Hardback)
THE TOMB IN TURKEY is the 16th of the Fethering series of novels by Simon Brett.
Carole Seddon is not a person who normally enjoys holidays but her friend Jude persuades her to accept a fortnight’s free accommodation at a luxurious Turkish villa owned by Jude’s property developer friend Barney Willingdon.
Jude has already learnt that their host has a past darker than she believed from their past liaison – with enemies from his ruthless business deals and complicated love life and questions remain unanswered about what really did happen to Barney’s first wife, Zoe?
From their arrival the holiday is marred by a series of menacing incidents with threatening messages daubed on the walls of their villa upon arrival and their host is accosted by a knife-wielding man at a local restaurant.
So Carole and Jude start to do what they do best – investigate.
Like the previous Fethering novel I reviewed (The Strangling on the Stage) what you get here is a good solid character driven novel in an interesting milieu with characters who are believable if a little bit over the top.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the last book as there really isn’t a strong whodunit here – pick the character who is most out of place and that is your killer BUT this is a nice traditional cozy mystery with just a little bit of dark humour and I will continue to try out more of the series now as a result of reading this one – it wasn’t as good as the last few Charles Paris mysteries but even a poor Simon Brett is still a mile in front of most authors for my money.
My copy was provided by the publishers, Severn House, via Netgalley.
Of the new releases in 2013, I would strongly recommend (in alphabetical order by author as I don’t want to choose an order)
Brett, Simon – A DECENT INTERVAL (the 18th of the Charles Paris novels by Simon Brett and the first to be published for 16 years; somewhat darker than before but still a good read)
McKinty, Adrian – I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET (the 2nd Sean Duffy novel set in 1980s Northern Ireland; yes I am biased as I go past most of the places in this novel on my train to work every day and part of this one is set in my village but this is a very assured police procedural with just one more in the series (AND IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE) to be published in January 2014)
Nesbø, Jo – POLICE & COCKROACHES (both tr. Don Bartlett) (the 10th & 2nd Harry Hole novels chronologically – POLICE carries on from PHANTOM and with COCKROACHES it was once again nice to see the back plot to the later novels explored in more depth)
Rankin, Ian – SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE (Rebus is back on the force, older but not wiser – demoted back to his 1987 rank so he could return with Siobhan Clarke as his boss)
Tursten, Helene – THE GOLDEN CALF (tr. Laura A. Wideburg)(the 5th Irene Huss novel in the series and to be translated into English; a fairly conventional police procedural with a likeable main character, well plotted with a good core idea and excellently realised characters who interact with one another realistically and are likeable).
Brett, Simon – ‘Blotto, Twinks and the Riddle of the Sphinx’
Hardback: 224 pages (July 2013) Publisher: C & R Crime ISBN: 1472103033
This is the fifth of the ‘Blotto and Twinks’ novels by Simon Brett, and there is another financial crisis at Tawcester Towers which leads the Dowager Duchess (mother of our hero and heroine, Blotto and Twinks) to make the decision of selling off the less important of the family possessions long consigned to the attics of the ancestral home.
Blotto and Twinks are dispatched to help the valuer carry out an inspection with little of worth being found until the valuer spies some Egyptian artifacts, collected by the tenth duke. Blotto and Twinks are drawn to a sarcophagus decorated with hieroglyphs which Twinks (the brains and beauty of the duo) translates as ‘Anyone who desecrates this shrine will be visited by the Pharoah’s curse…’ – just as Blotto prises the lid off.
From then on unpleasant incidents start happening at Tawcester Towers and Blotto and Twinks have to stop the accelerating sequence of disasters.
If you have read and enjoyed any of the earlier books in the series then it is probably enough to get you to read it to just tell you that this is more of the same with some new twists and a new location for the ending, but the same characters.
If you are new to the world of Blotto and Twinks, then think of a world that is a cross between PG Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster and a traditional cozy mystery with just a dash of slapstick – if this sounds interesting to you, then read a Blotto and Twinks; it should raise a smile at least. If not a belly laugh.
Where will the next stop be for Blotto and Twinks – India, China?
Brett, Simon – ‘A Decent Interval’
Hardback: 208 pages (Mar. 2013) Publisher: Creme de la Crime ISBN: 1780290446
This is the eighteenth of the Charles Paris novels by Simon Brett and the first to be published for sixteen years although there have been BBC radio adaptations during that time (two had been broadcast with Francis Matthews as Charles Paris in 1984 and 1985 but Bill Nighy took over for a longer run as Charles Paris from 2004 onwards).
Charles Paris is, as is often, if not usually the case, resting between acting engagements with the aid of numerous bottles of his favourite whiskey. He then finds himself contacted twice in quick succession by his agent Maurice Skellern who offers him two acting roles – a very rare event as Maurice normally does not contact Charles for months at a time. The first is for one of the dramatic re-enactments in a television history programme directed by Tibor Pincus – former Hungarian enfant terrible of 1960s and 1970s television dramas – which doesn’t quite live up to Charles’ expectations. The second job is two minor roles in a production of Hamlet which is to be a starring vehicle for two television show winners- Ophelia is played by Katrina Selsey who won the role through a television talent show with Hamlet being played by the winner of a singing show, Jared Root. The two young stars have rather different views of celebrity and the theatre than the more experienced members of the cast believing in the chat show and the tweet over rehearsing.
The company get to their first stop on the tour which should lead to the West End, the Grand Theatre Marlborough. Here the situation gets into more traditional Charles Paris territory, i.e. murder not success.
I did read this very quickly as I tend to do with books that I really like but I still felt disappointed. I really like Simon Brett’s two other ongoing series – the Fethering mysteries which are excellent cozies with a slight comic turn and the Blotto and Twinks novels which have the humour much stronger than the detective story and are laugh out loud funny. This wasn’t that funny for me (although I accept that humour is subjective), the rationale for the murder but not the killer is signposted quite early on after the murder and I felt really sorry for Charles whose life is really in a rut with little contact with his wife or his daughter and grandchild.
Would I read another Simon Brett – yes, BLOTTO, TWINKS AND THE BOOTLEGGER’S MOLL is next on my to-be-read pile and I would read another Charles Paris as soon as it comes out but could Charles have a bit of sunshine in his life please?