I won’t lie,
I’m in love,
This is the first in Simon Brett’s series of books The Charles Paris Mysteries. Paris is a professional, but not particularly successful actor, with a history of drinking and womanising. Actually the womanising is historical, the drinking remains current through all the books I’ve listened to, much to the chagrin of his semi-detached wife, Frances and his shark of an agent, Maurice. He stumbles haphazardly into murders with surprising regularity, and through a combination of good (or bad) luck, and general inquisitiveness manages to find himself quite frequently alone with the killer just as the denouement happens.
I discovered these dramatisations a couple of months ago on Audible. I was looking for a quick and easy listen and my predilection for cosy crime and humour put these at the top of my recommendations.
Within minutes I was absolutely in love with them. The stories are relatively uncomplicated as whodunnits but the dialogue is fabulous, clever and witty in a way that is increasingly hard to find these days.
As good as it is, though, an undeniable element in the almost addictive power of these plays is Bill Nighy. I started out already a huge fan of his work – I have yet to find anything that I dislike him in – but his performance and characterisation of Charles Paris is just perfection. In fact if I didn’t have to do productive things with my life I could just drop on my sofa right now and give over an entire day to the man’s genius.
It was certainly enough to send me scurrying off to my Audible account to buy some discounted credits, and – after listening to a couple of stories in random order – seek out the first and start working through them in order.
Though it’s not essential to listen to or read them chronologically, the complex relationship between Paris and his Semi-Detached wife, and their mutual relationship with their daughter (who they love) and their son-in-law (who they don’t love) is easier to follow if you do.
If you buy one audiobook this year make it one of these.