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Summary

Charles Paris returns again, in a fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival, with another nubile girl to provoke him, his accommodating wife to console him and a gory murder to challenge him.

Edinburgh and the Festival are both background and foreground with Charles flitting between a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a ‘mixed-media’ satire, a late-night revue and his own one-man show on Thomas Hood. Then a fading pop star is murdered, there’s a bomb scare in Holyrood Palace and someone makes a suicide leap from the top of the Rock….

©1985 Gareth Owen (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Edinburgh in the festival - all the world's a stage

This novel has aged better than most, or maybe it just seems so to me - I was there in 1974, too; fortunately a student, not a middle-aged roué ( of either gender ) like Charles Paris. The story is full of twists and turns, sometimes even cliffhanging - plenty of high spots in our volcanic city.
Charles of the books is much less cuddly than his Radio 4 avatar as played by Bill Nighy, less witty and more promiscuous, but of course of a previous generation - he'd be 87 by now, assuming his inexplicable taste for a certain nasty blended cooking whisky - wiser drinkers only touch GOOD malts - hadn't destroyed liver, brain and libido.
However, this book did evoke for me the atmosphere and magic of the big E in August. Things change in Edinburgh but the essentials remain.
There is the hideous sexism of the time, less pronounced than in other novels, perhaps because of the eclectic festival situation, and we're spared denigration of LGBT people.

Brett does a reasonable job on Scots accents. A generic music hall voice wouldn't have done for diverse characters - genteel Edinburgh isn't West Coast rural, or Glasgow (genteel or not), or angry young man.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Another winner

As always Charles Paris is a delight. Brett crafts his story with wit and a nod to academia that is engaging. I can never be bored by Paris

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not stage struck - more stage battered.

1974, and Maurice, his agent, still not having provided suitable employment, actor Charles Paris accepts an invitation to take his one man show about Thomas Hood to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In barracks like dogs smelling of perpetual cabbage dinners and surrounded by, mostly, students, the 47 years old actor finds himself witness to an unfortunate death by stabbing in one of the rehearsals. Deemed an accident by most, including, it seemed, the police, Paris was not so sure. Something in the terrified eyes of the victim earlier convinced him this was murder. Time for another Charles Paris investigation.

These humorous theatrical murder mysteries are great fun. Charles himself, a little pathetic but charming long separated but not divorced from his wife, has a definite way with the ladies, a long, if not overly successful, career as a profession actor and a propensity for finding himself in uncomfortable situations. Many of the books have been cleverly adapted as plays for BBC radio with Bill Nighy playing the lead role superbly. This edition is the unabridged novel, read by the author, Simon Brett. Although skillfully performed with the numerous characters voiced distinctly and individually, and the text clear and we'll intoned, frequent very audible intakes of breath during sentence narration is annoying. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable, lightweight but intriguing mystery filled with the background of amateur theatre and some marvellous characters.

Each chapter is headed by a quote from one of Thomas Hood's mostly terrible punning poems, echoing Charles' surprisingly successful one man show.
Recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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I got confused with all the different characters

Simon Brett is brilliant, both as a narrator and writer, but with this one, I think he's forgotten that the rest of us aren't ….
So what this needs is a cast list. I got totally confused with who is who and what is what and who has motives and who doesn't,and what was going on at all.
Still, I'm on my third listen and so maybe it will all come clear.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent!😉

So entertaining, interesting characters, likable rogues,great pace and humour throughout. I have listened to all the BBC dramatistion with the delightful voice choices which, are addictive and hesitated in buying this book but it is wonderful too. I got home tonight having taught and feeling zapped but the story has easily kept me engaged as I potter about! Thank you, Simon Brett, for sharing your gifts...you have been prolific in your writing for radio which, brings life's bittersweet, laugh or cry lives of familiar yet the not yet met characters' stories into my home. Never dark but not avoiding dark occurrences, somehow you bring the beauty of human nature, multifaceted and evoke empathy for individuals that commit murder! Charles Paris is so likeable,debauched but has depths that make his ,along with his separated wife delightful main characters. There's gentle comedic quality, full on boobs, scenarios that surprise and keep you intrigued, keen to hear
more!

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Charles Paris

Story was good, the reading ok. This was not the BBC Charles Paris. Will stick to the BBC version from now on.

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So much literary reference

I cannot count the number of times I have HATED the narration when done by the author - to the point when I don't buy the book, regardless of the reviews. However, this time I didn't notice the narrator until after I had clicked the 'Confirm Purchase' button - a happy mistake. I thoroughly enjoyed the book AND the narration, thank you.

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entertaining

not the best Charles paris story I've heard, but entertaining nonetheless. would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a whodunit

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  • Jk
  • 27-12-20

Period Piece

I came to this series via the Radio 4 dramas, so this was a little different- it is set in the early 1970s and the character seems slightly different too.

But once I adapted to the change I enjoyed it, as always.

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surprised!!

Im surprised I liked this because I am so used to the fabulous Bill Nighy reading these but this was very good!