It must be 25 years or more since I first came across the crime fiction of Simon Brett. I enjoyed a number of his very witty novels about the actor and amateur detective Charles Paris before moving on to his second string sleuth, Mrs Pargeter. More recently, he has enjoyed good deal of success with his Fethering novels.
But this very prolific writer has, quite apart from his work for radio and television and some non-fiction, which includes an admirable anthology of parodies, also written successful stand-alone novels of psychological suspense. Not long ago, I posted a review of A Shock to the System, the film based on one of those books, and I can also recommend Dead Romantic, one of his strongest novels.
He is as witty and urbane in person as in print, and many years ago, I heard him give a highly entertaining talk at a writers' festival. I have to confess that I was too shy to introduce myself as a fan, but it did give me great pleasure to meet him at last some time later. More recently, I was quite thrilled to receive a letter from him, out of the blue, telling me I'd been elected to membership of the Detection Club, of which he is President.
A couple of times, I've had the happy experience of including Simon Brett stories in anthologies that I've edited - most recently, a new Charles Paris story for Original Sins. He is a first rate short story writer, and his collected crime stories, in a couple of volumes, are definitely worth seeking out. As the title of one of hose books, A Box of Tricks, implies, he is very good on plot and twists, but he is also keen to keep trying something new - he's even written crime fiction in verse. I saw Simon fleetingly at the recent Crimefest, and here's a photo of the two of us during the CWA Dagger shortlist event. My thanks, as ever, to Ali Karim, for allowing me to reproduce it.