Star Trap by Simon Brett

Charles Paris, the perennial under-performing actor, has solved a couple of murders in his career, and finds himself hired for a small part in a musical version of She Stoops To Conquer. Not that he’s been hired for his acting ability, such as it is. There have been some accidents in the early stages of the production and the producer is concerned that someone is trying to sabotage the performance.

Charles soon meets the star of the musical, Christopher Milton, a brilliantly talented performer, known for his successful TV sitcom. But Milton has his own ideas as to how the show should proceed – namely, including him on stage as much as possible. As the show veers further away from the director’s original vision (and even further away from Oliver Goldsmith’s original play), and the accidents continue, Charles becomes convinced that he knows who is behind the problems. But why would Milton want to sabotage his own play?

Back to Crimes Of The Century, hosted by Past Offences, and this month it’s 1977. As promised, I’m not going mad this month, unlike last time, and this is going to be my only entry for #1977book. And unfortunately it’s back to business as usual for the curse of Crimes Of The Century…

This book would be a fascinating intriguing read if you were interested in the development from script to stage of a popular musical, the frustrations of the writer and director as their visions are eroded and the influence of a rising star exerting their power and influence. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is the book for you. At times, it feels as if Simon Brett is using the book to vent his own frustrations, and you can amuse yourself by playing “guess who Milton is based on”.

But of course, this is a mystery novel. And on that aspect, it comes up very short. It takes an age for a serious incident to occur and by this point, I’d completely lost interest in the story. The villain could have been anyone in the cast – they are only caught when they give themselves away.

Oh, 1977-ness? Well, there’s the use of the word “honked” as being a euphemism for “drunk”. Does that count?

I’m a big fan of Brett’s work, but this isn’t a great mystery novel. Well Worth A Look IF you’re interested in back stage shenanigans. Otherwise…

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5 comments

  1. I’ve really enjoyed books from Brett’s Blotto and Twinks series, but my one experience with this series wasn’t a very good one. It might well have had a better mystery element but the sexism was a bit much for me.

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    • I started one of the Blotto books but didn’t get very far with it. Found it rather irritating. But Mrs Pargeter, thr Fethering books and the more recent Paris books have all been fun reads

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  2. I’m afraid the Blotto book was a DNF (more a hardly started) for me – very irritating wanna-be Wodehouse. Enjoyed the early Fethering books, but got bored with the characters as they didn’t seem to progress much through the series. Loved the Paris & Pargeter books when I discovered them in the library in the late 1990’s, but picked one up recently & couldn’t remember why I had liked them so much. I keep trying to like Brett’s books, but don’t quite manage it !

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