Friday 3 June 2022

The Cinderella Killer - a Charles Paris mystery

His hair was getting increasingly grey at the temples - still hopefully just on the side of distingue rather than decrepit - and he hoped when the grey had colonised all of his head he'd resist the temptation to dye it. So far as Charles could see from the evidence of other actors, the only tint available for men was the colour of conkers. And he didn't fancy going around looking like that. He had his pride.

Pretty much the only time I listen to Radio 4 nowadays is for the Charles Paris adaptions featuring the brilliant Bill Nighy as the dissolute actor/amateur detective.  I've never actually read the books by Simon Brett though so I started off with
The Cinderella Killer and very much enjoyed it.  Probably not for you if you are into dark and intricately plotted crime fiction, but if you like rackety English pubs, theatrical shenanigans and a very attractively louche central character you will like this.

Charles is in panto at Eastbourne.  He has a minor but lucrative role in the Empire Theatre's production of Cinderella. The cast is a mix of second rate soap stars who can't act but get top billing and veterans like Charles and old-time pantomime dames who can act but are not even named on the posters.  The director is a choreographer more interested in the musical numbers than rehearsing the script so Charles is usually to be found in The Sea Dog pub.

In spite of the rain through which he splashed, the front at Eastbourne sill retained the Victorian elegance which had once seen it called 'The Empress of Watering Places.'  Lights still shone from the pier, with its blue and white paint, it's Victorian Tea Rooms, it's Atlantis Night Club at the end. Charles loved the tacky charm of English seaside towns out of season.

Loved the amusing yet poignant descriptions of life as a mostly out of work actor - staying in digs and living paycheck to paycheck.  Charles is semi-estranged from his wife Frances because of his drinking and spends Christmas alone, irritated to see less talented actors who have made it big on TV and haunted by certain reviews of his own performances 'Charles's Paris looked as if he had wandered in from another show (and would rather be back there).'  Eastbourne Herald.

 I've ordered some of the Charles Paris books to read over the summer and I also found this lovely review by Verity Reads Books