“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
Charles Paris has finally managed to tick off one of his dream roles. An old colleague has cast his as Sir Toby Belch in a touring production of Twelfth Night. Things seem to be going well…
… until the director mysteriously takes ill and is replaced by an upcoming director with his own ideas about how Shakespeare should be performed, all of which are contrary to Charles’s traditional approach. As rehearsals continue, Charles’s opinions start to marginalise him from the rest of the cast. But when someone else takes ill, he begins to suspect someone in the cast has murderous ambitions. Worse than that, it seems that those ambitions may be directed towards Charles himself!
Unlike most of the series that I review semi-regularly, I seem to be unable to review the Charles Paris mysteries in order – this is book sixteen in the series (out of nineteen to date) – but there’s an additional question here. Why exactly do I keep reading them?
So far, I’m yet to be particularly impressed by the mystery element – each book to date seems to be a guessing game rather than a mystery to be solved, and this is no exception. But they are entertaining reads with a nice line in humour.
That’s probably a good job this time, as the main plot takes an absolute age to get going. Brett seems more concerned with venting his spleen concerning modern re-interpretations (and mis-interpretations) of the Bard’s work. This venting is a good laugh but I can imagine people after a deep whodunit (and who aren’t interested in the theatre) might find themselves getting a little impatient with the narrative.
When things do kick off (and I’m being vague as the major plot development takes place over halfway through the book) it still takes a while for suspects to be confronted – to be honest, this sections could have been expanded. It makes the usual ricocheting around the suspects even more pronounced in this book. As ever, Charles proves to be a reasonably ineffective sleuth – it’s not clear that he actually knows who the killer is until they are unmasked so I don’t see how the reader is supposed to work it out. But that’s hardly unique amongst post-Golden Age mystery novels…
But if you enjoy the misadventures of Charles Paris, this is an enjoyable read. I certainly enjoyed it. Recommended if you like the series and aren’t bothered by a missing comma in the title.
Other reviews in the series:
- Cast, In Order Of Disappearance
- The Dead Side Of The Mic (audio)
- A Decent Interval
- The Cinderella Killer