Books by Simon Brett

THE KILLER IN THE CHOIR  by Simon Brett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2019

"Minor Brett, which is very minor indeed, but still a treasure trove of microgossip."
An unlikely accusation at a wake kicks off the latest case of murder in Fethering, that quaint little village time forgot. Read full book review >
A DEADLY HABIT by Simon Brett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2018

"An agreeable, efficient, low-impact backstage whodunit from a savvy veteran, with just enough excerpts from earlier reviews of the hero's storied career to keep up the snark quotient."
Can it be? Minor actor and major alcoholic Charles Paris (The Cinderella Killer, 2014, etc.) is finally trying to get a handle on his drinking. Read full book review >
THE LIAR IN THE LIBRARY by Simon Brett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 2018

"An unabashed reincarnation of golden-age plotting and decorum, right down to the deliciously overwrought detective novel Brett imagines and quotes as having inspired the killer's nefarious schemes."
Rolling-stone healer Jude Nicholls' reunion with her old friend Megan Sinclair's ex-husband runs into several problems, not the least of them his murder. Read full book review >
THE TOMB IN TURKEY by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2015

"The sitcom humor is anodyne but gently effective. There are so few suspects that you'll spot the killer early on, unless of course you're Jude, preoccupied with the men staring at her cleavage, or Carole, checking to make sure she's remembered to take along her Imodium."
Vacationing in Turkey, amateur sleuths Carole Seddon and Jude Nichol bring their unique combination of lightweight Fethering conflicts and murder most foul with them. Read full book review >
THE STRANGLING ON THE STAGE  by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 1, 2014

"Although Brett (A Decent Interval, 2013, etc.) effectively skewers small-town theatrics, occasional glints of pathos and an unexpectedly tragic outcome darken the tone. The abrupt return to the comfort of levity is as unconvincing as the murder motive itself."
An amateur dramatic production turns deadly in the latest Fethering cozy. Read full book review >
A DECENT INTERVAL by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 1, 2013

"A cheeky sendup of TV competition shows, tweeting, texting and backstage egos. If the plot recalls that of Brett's Sicken and So Die (1997), well, that was funny too, even if both their final acts could have used a bit of tweaking."
After a 16-year absence, reprobate actor Charles Paris totters back on stage. Read full book review >
THE CORPSE ON THE COURT by Simon Brett
Released: Feb. 1, 2013

"Top-flight Brett (Guns in the Gallery, 2012, etc.), with droll potshots at flawed husbands, the women who shouldn't have married them, rabid sports enthusiasts and quasi-tiffs among friends."
Propelled by spite (in Carole's case) and love (in Jude's), the Fethering ladies embark on separate investigations. Read full book review >
GUNS IN THE GALLERY by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2012

"Brett's usual cozy charm and flashes of wit (Bones Under the Beach Hut, 2011, etc.) are nowhere in evidence here. Perhaps it's time to retire the Fethering series and start something fresh."
If someone's prone to suicide, is it OK to lend a helping hand? Read full book review >
BONES UNDER THE BEACH HUT by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 16, 2011

"Not the sturdiest or wittiest of the Fethering series (Blood at the Bookies, 2008, etc.), but fans, perhaps fortified by swigs of Chilean Chardonnay, probably won't mind. "
The Fethering gals uncover a corpse in a cabana. Read full book review >
THE POISONING IN THE PUB by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 18, 2009

"The last few Fethering mysteries (Blood at the Bookies, 2008, etc.) have lacked the usual quota of wit, gleeful satire and clever if unmemorable plotting. Alas, matters are equally tired at the pub. Even Brett devotees might want to give this installment a miss. "
Fethering neighbors Jude and Carole come to the aid of a publican. Read full book review >
BLOOD AT THE BOOKIES by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 20, 2008

"A so-so plot, but a nice few hours in the country with the ever-expanding cast of congenial Fethering villagers."
Fethering neighbors Jude and Carole (Death Under the Dryer, 2007, etc.) once again one-up the police in solving a village crime. Read full book review >
DEATH UNDER THE DRYER by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 15, 2007

"Incomparably minor Brett, lacking the author's usual wit, and plodding along with the unfinished finesse of a much more modest talent."
When a teenager is murdered, Jude and Carole, Miss Marple clones, investigate. Read full book review >
DEATH UNDER THE DRYER by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 15, 2007

"Incomparably minor Brett, lacking the author's usual wit, and plodding along with the unfinished finesse of a much more modest talent."
When a teenager is murdered, Jude and Carole, Miss Marple clones, investigate. Read full book review >
THE DETECTION COLLECTION by Simon Brett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 22, 2006

"Proceeds, as usual with Detection Club publications, go to support the Club—the best reason to spend your money on this one."
Eleven new stories by British luminaries mostly failing to do what they do best. Read full book review >
THE PENULTIMATE CHANCE SALOON by Simon Brett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2006

"Brett, whose wry chatter has enlivened mysteries starring Charles Paris, Mrs. P and Fethering (The Witness at the Wedding, 2005, etc.), has great fun playing around with sex past 60. Whatever your age, you'll have fun with this one too."
A wry study of a man, 60, single again, and willing—nay, eager—to bonk anyone who'll have him. Read full book review >
THE HANGING IN THE HOTEL by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 3, 2004

"Smatterings of the Brett wit don't compensate for gaping plot holes and emphatically distasteful attitudes toward homosexuality."
A convivial group of misogynists check into the Hopwicke Country House Hotel. One checks out early. Read full book review >
MURDER IN THE MUSEUM by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 5, 2003

"This fourth in a series could have used a little tweaking, but Brett provides a wry dissection of fundraising efforts, infighting among the nonprofit set, writing styles between the wars, and friends who don't confide in each other."
Fethering village neighbors Carole Seddon and Jude Nichol (The Torso in the Town, 2002, etc.) poke at West Sussex secrets past and present with a drollness and an edge Miss Marple never dreamed of. Read full book review >
THE TORSO IN THE TOWN by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 6, 2002

"Genial if not memorable, with a few swipes at villages accommodating the upscale tourist market and unsubstantiated sexual assumptions. Even so, Jude and Carole hardly rise to the level of Brett's marginal actor Charles Paris—or the sublime Mrs. P."
Fedborough, just a few kilometers down the road from Fethering, is a posh little town full of antique stores, gourmet food shops, and wealthy resettled Londoners like Kim and Grant Roxby, the new owners of Pelling House, where their rather tedious dinner party is interrupted by their teenage son Harry's discovery of a neatly dismembered woman's body in the cellar. Who was she, and who put her there? Fortunately for the coppers, who haven't a clue, one of the dinner guests is Fethering's nosiest amateur sleuth, that middle-aged bohemian Jude (Death on the Downs, 2001, etc.), who bustles right over to her glum chum Carole, despondent over her breakup with the local publican, and pries open all sorts of village secrets. Who was sleeping with whom? The busiest bed seems to have belonged to Virginia, the promiscuous wife of former Pelling House owner Roddy Hargreaves, who left him a few years back. Roddy is soon found floating in the muddy Fether, the victim of a drunken misstep or a second homicide. There'll be eavesdropping at the Coach and Horses, a walking tour of Fedborough, and some apprentice sleuthing by young Harry before Jude and Carole solve the Pelling House mystery and decide never to venture those few kilometers from Fethering again. Read full book review >
DEATH ON THE DOWNS by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 7, 2001

"Occasionally witty, but Brett's send-up of the congenial village mystery needs more companionable protagonists than self-effacing Carole and cryptic Jude (The Body on the Beach, 2000). "
Weldisham, a rural village recently tarted up by London nabobs longing for a place to weekend in the country with all the mod cons, is in for a bit of a shock when Carole Seddon, from the neighboring village of Fethering, takes a walk on the Downs, seeks shelter in a derelict barn during a storm, and discovers two bags full of cleanly picked bones. Whose? The regulars at the Hare and Hounds suggest they might be those of Detective Sergeant Lennie Baylis's mum, who walked out on her abusive husband years back. Or of Graham Forbes's first wife, who left with him for a posting in Kuala Lumpur, where she supposedly ran off with a university professor. Or of young Tamsin Lutteridge, who despite extreme inertia from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, has vanished. Soon enough, Carole's chum and amateur-sleuthing companion Jude finds Tamsin, leaving Carole to fend off an unwanted suitor, offend prizewinning former char Pauline and her menacing son Brian, and discover yet another dilapidated barn that acted as a repository for those old bones. Gossip, innuendo, quaffs at the pub, arson, another death, and a last-chapter cargo of drugs, thugs from the south, and three Weldisham ne'er-do-wells out to conquer the town—all come into play before Carole contemplates life beside a publican and Jude decides Ireland might just be her cuppa. Read full book review >
MRS. PARGETER'S POINT OF HONOUR by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

Mrs. Pargeter's Point Of Honour ($22.00, Oct.; 272 pp.; 0-684-86295-6) While lesser art thieves, like Veronica Chastaigne's late husband Bennie, wear themselves out merely removing paintings from museum walls, irrepressible Melita Pargeter (Mrs. Pargeter's Plot, 1998, etc.) and her raffish associates try to oblige her dying acquaintance by tackling an infinitely trickier job: returning the paintings Bennie assembled to their rightful owners without leaving a trace. Read full book review >
DEAD ROOM FARCE by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 11, 1998

Rolling-stone actor/detective Charles Paris has fallen away from the relative good fortune he enjoyed in Sicken and So Die (1997): Separated again from his eternally undivorced wife, he's reduced to touring in a frisky sex farce whose thoroughly professional author is in no hurry to get the lines right. The star, Bernard Walton, is a frigid egoist who gives his supporting cast no help and precious little eye contact; he's joined by bluff sponger Ransome George, Pippa Trewin, an ingÇnue over her head, and sexy stooge Cookie Stone. Not a warm heart among the lot, unless you count Cookie's dispatch in taking Charles to bed—and even that little exercise, in the peerlessly inexpert manner of Charles's amours, turns out to be more trouble than it's worth. One fine day the company travels to a studio, on the outskirts of Bath, to record a radio ad for the play for ex-BBC producer Mark Lear, and soon after they leave, Lisa Wilson, who's more than just a partner to Mark, finds his dead body locked in an airless recording room. Accident, suicide, or murder? Mark's unlovely ex, smacking her lips over an insurance payoff for her children, wants Charles to prove that Mark couldn't have killed himself, but the gentle reader is most likely to remain indifferent. Much civilized mirth over Charles's equally incontinent drinking, wenching, and acting, though the mystery itself produces scarcely a peep. Strictly for fans who wouldn't miss a single one of Charles's hapless performances. Read full book review >
SICKEN AND SO DIE by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

Shabby actor-sleuth Charles Paris feels a bit cheerier than usual as this 16th outing begins (A Reconstructed Corpse, 1994, etc.). He's gotten a great Shakespearean role at least—Sir Toby Belch—even if this Twelfth Night is just a sturdy, conventional, touring production. Also, he's living again with estranged wife Frances, even drinking less. Midway through rehearsals, however, things turn grim. The director falls ill (poisoned?) and is replaced by Romanian ``boy wonder'' Alexandru Radulescu—who, to Charles's horror, adds sitar music, casts a tubby West Indian as Sir Andrew Augecheek, and along with some superb visual ideas, adds a slew of radical/trendy gimmicks. (``You will have a `Guns and Roses' T-shirt under your doublet. That would certainly offend Malvolio.'') Then the Viola, a onetime TV star, dies from a lethal injection during the rainy dress rehearsal at an outdoor arts festival. And soon Charles is sleuthing (and boozing) again, convinced that there's been a murderous conspiracy to turn the show into the ultimate gender-bender. Rather feebly plotted, this is hardly prime Brett—but for unpretentious readability he's hard to beat, especially with a few choice send-ups (the ``festival'' racket, politically correct ``artspeak'') and the endearing ups and downs of poor old Charles. (Mystery Guild alternate selection) Read full book review >
SINGLED OUT by Simon Brett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 1995

Brett takes a shivery break from his comic mysteries about second-rate actor Charles Paris (A Reconstructed Corpse, 1994, etc.) and comfy widow Melita Pargeter (Mrs. Pargeter's Pound of Flesh, 1993, etc.) in this lightning-fast tale of the sins of the father being visited on his children and his children's children. Abused for years by the monstrous father who eventually died in jail after strangling her mother, TV news director Laura Fisher has resolved to keep her distance from men. After three years of sleepwalking through marriage to unloving estate agent Michael Rowntree back in the Sixties, she cold-bloodedly picked up a stranger to impregnate her—the child, naturally, was a boy- -even before she knew her romance with a married New Zealand documentarist was hopeless. When her equally abused brother Kent, who grew up to join the Bristol CID, celebrated her son Tom's birth by telling her that her one-night stand strangled a young woman who resembled Laura hours after leaving her hotel room, Laura wondered what fatality linked her family to acts of violence. But none of these premonitions prepares her for Tom's own shocking coming-of-age 23 years later. First, his self- satisfied girlfriend Emily Howard alleges that he attacked her without warning in bed; then Emily's strangled minutes after leaving Laura's place, and Tom disappears, presumably the victim of a blood curse he inherited from both sides of his family. Just in case everything seems a little too straightforward, Laura's unlikable ex and her New Zealand lover are back in the picture too; but no reader will take as long as poor Laura to get to the bottom of the intergenerational skullduggery. Mary Higgins Clark without the extra calories. It's obvious early on where the one-dimensional story is going, but it hurtles along so relentlessly that you won't feel cheated. Read full book review >
A RECONSTRUCTED CORPSE by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 6, 1994

Finally, a role within Charles Paris's limited histrionic range: missing, presumed dead, in the character of Martin Earnshaw, a small-time property developer who got in too deep to a loan shark, stepped out one night for a drink, and never came back. Sleazy TV producer Bob Garston, ever alert for the audience's lowest instincts, hires Charles as an extra to impersonate Earnshaw in reconstructed scenes from the last hours of his life for Public Enemies, his true-crime show. Meantime, another sort of reconstruction—spurred perhaps by the rivalry between glamorous, amorous police consultant Sam Noakes and private investigator Ted Faraday, her current lover—gets underway when arms and legs that might have been Earnshaw's begin turning up just in time to make the weekly TV broadcasts. One evening after taping, Charles absent- mindedly follows Noakes's former lover Sergeant Greg Marchmont to a suspicious flat in Brighton—and right into the eye of the storm. Pleasantly urbane as ever, though Charles (Corporate Bodies, 1992, etc.) is unwontedly subdued and the mystery pretty transparent. Read full book review >
Released: April 2, 1993

Melita Pargeter, that impossibly well-connected underworld widow (Mrs. Pargeter's Package, etc.), checks into the Brotherton Hall fat farm, along with her friend Kim Thurrock, and finds surprises unthinkable outside Brett's world of high comedy—from the cordon bleu diet she's secretly allowed, to the number of Brothertons tied into a botched burglary in Streatham that her late husband masterminded, and to the sudden death of anorexic client Jenny Hargreaves, whose improbably thin corpse promptly disappears. The death is clearly tied to self-promoting author Sue Fisher's Mind Over Fatty Matter diet empire—and also, just as clearly, to the Streatham job. A gossamer plot beefed up with the heavy jocosity Brett reserves for Mrs. P. and her raffish criminal cohorts. Read full book review >
CORPORATE BODIES by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 18, 1992

Fans of actor-detective Charles Paris will find him in top form in this outing, though he doesn't distinguish himself in either role. His current role as forklift operator in a publicity shoot for Delmoleen Foods draws sneers even from the operator he's replacing, and Charles is upstaged when the forklift is used to kill brassy typist Dayna Richman, who may have been sleeping her way to the top, using some blackmailing X-rated tapes of her own to give new meaning to the phrase ``promotional video.'' In between amusing vignettes at Wimbledon—in another feckless attempt to rekindle his romance with his ex-wife, Frances—and backstage at Delmoleen to dream up an advertising campaign for the world's first green muesli bar, Charles manages to dig up every blackmail target but the killer, who's more surprising, but no more threatening, than usual. A mystery almost worthy of Brett's light, clever dialogue makes this Charles's best showing in years. Read full book review >
MRS. PARGETER'S PACKAGE by Simon Brett
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 1991

Mrs. Pargeter-that well-off widow of a gentlemanly master criminal (A Nice Class of Corpse, Mrs, Presumed Dead)-is off on another little vacation. This time, however, the going's not so posh or comfy because all the arrangements-a package tour to the Greek isle of Corfu-have been made by Mrs. P.'s traveling companion: friend Joyce Dover, a recent widow, still grieving and quite tense. And once on the island Joyce gets increasingly jumpy. So, when she's found dead in her villa bed, her wrists slit with broken glass, everyone assumes that the mournful lady has committed suicide. Everyone, that is, but Mrs. P.-who smells murder and starts sleuthing, assisted by an expatriate Englishman (an old crony of Mr. P.'s) with usefully shady connections. The chief clues? A bottle of sodium carbonate disguised as ouzo (which Joyce was carrying) and the highly murky past of Joyce's late husband (a sometime gunrunner of vaguely foreign nationality). And though the windup, involving long-buried family secrets, is rather a gnarl, this is gently amusing, mildly involving entertainment in the leisurely Brett manner-with strong local color (the seedy variety) and the distinctive charms of earthy-yet-proper Mrs. P. Read full book review >
MRS, PRESUMED DEAD by Simon Brett
Released: April 17, 1989

Mrs. Melita Pargeter, the well-upholstered, well-heeled widow of a classy crook, follows up her modestly appealing debut (A Nice Class of Corpse) with an even slighter excursion into jocular amateur-sleuthing. Having just moved into Smithy's Loam, a development of six "executive homes," Mrs. P. gets curious about the former owner of the house: Theresa Cotton, youngish, ordinary and happily married (or so it seemed). Why did Theresa give a false forwarding address? Was she about to enter a shady religious commune called the Church of Utter Simplicity? Above all—where is she now? Where, for that matter, is her husband Rod (supposedly working up North but actually vanished)? Both Theresa and Rod will turn up dead, of course. Meanwhile, Mrs. P. focuses her suspicions on the housewives in the other five houses at Smithy's Loam: which of them have Deep Dark Secrets that Theresa uncovered? And, though the plot is wan and skimpy, comfy Mrs. Pargeter is again endearing, mildly amusing company—as she uses her late husband's network of cronies (and her own considerable smarts) to close in on the ho-hum suspect. Read full book review >