A COMEDIAN DIES by Simon Brett


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Perhaps that title is an omen, because Charles Paris, English actor-sleuth, is a good deal less witty here than in his previous four cases--but this is nonetheless a likable case, nicely colored with a music-hall/TV background. The victim is up-and-coming comic/musician Bill Peaky, electrocuted by his guitar at the Winter Gardens music-hall in seaside Hunstanton. Charles is in the audience and determines to sleuth the ""accident,"" even if it takes time away from his new, well-paying (!) job: playing straight man to a legendary old comedian who's attempting a TV comeback. With the action split between convincingly depressing TV-special rehearsals (the old comedian's traumas in the inhuman medium are neatly rendered) and Charles' haphazard investigation (he accuses Peaky's wife, then his agent, then a drug-addict ""roadie""), Brett is far from dull; but his satirical gift seems muted here. And the solution, when it comes, is a mild eyebrow-raiser. Lesser Brett, then, but a neat, swift read by anybody's standards.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Scribners