Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Simon Brett's Situation Tragedy

Situation Tragedy is the seventh (1981) in Simon Brett's series of Charles Paris mysteries. Paris is a not very successful English stage actor who happens upon dead bodies much more frequently than any normal human being should. Or about par for an amateur detective. This outing, for example, has four.

Paris has been playing a barman, a recurring character, in a television comedy, and in a new spinoff, his role looks to be more important (though still not that important) and Paris can always use the money. The new show, called the Strutters, for the married couple who are the headliners, seems plagued by accidents: first, an objectionable production assistant dies, falling off a fire escape, then the director drives his car off the road, the scriptwriter is killed in a hit and run, and then finally the floor manager is killed by a falling light stand. You, reader, will have no difficulty in imagining this as a series of murders. Nor does Charles Paris. The police are surprisingly indifferent, however, even to the hit and run. You'd think they'd at least bring out the occupational safety division.

By this time the Charles Paris series is well established, various recurring characters make a passing appearance: his ex-wife, Frances, his lackluster agent, Maurice Skellern, his successful lawyer friend, Gerald Venables, and alcohol, particularly Bell's Blended Scotch. None plays a particularly important role in this one. The story moves along nicely enough, and gives Brett the opportunity to satirize television and television types, though some of the jokes seemed obvious. I found the red herrings fairly unconvincing, but the conclusion I thought quite successful, with just a bit of a complication at the end. Charles Paris has to read an obscure series of Golden Age mysteries to solve it. In short if you like the Charles Paris series, you'll find this a good one.

The last murder had it occurred would have involved the samurai sword on the cover. I'm not entirely sure what the knife with the elaborate guard has to do with the plot. But as it is, I'm going to claim the handwritten papers for this cover; looked at closely, they seem to be extracts from that obscure Golden Age mystery writer.

Silver Age. Written document. Read for My Reader's Block Mystery Scavenger's Hunt.

It also counts for My Reader's Block Mount TBR Challenge.

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