Monday, 19 September 2011

Simon Brett



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.



5 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for sharing the lovely 'photo. I like Simon Brett's work very much and I'm so glad he's pleasant in person. I'd heard that Dead Romantic is good; I shall have to find that one. In the meantime, thanks for this profile of a very talented author.

seana said...

I loved the Charles Paris books. I don't know why I didn't move on to the others. Perhaps I loved Charles Paris too much...

Richmonde said...

I recommend Brett's The Penultimate Chance Saloon, about a 60-year-old man whose wife leaves him.

Ed Gorman said...

Charles Paris is not only one of my all-time favorite mystery characters I actually studied three of the Paris novels in teaching myself how to write whodunits. My studying is there for all to see in my two novels about Tobin the movie critic. For all the fun in the books Paris is richly drawn and fascinating character.

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for these comments. I do think Simon Brett is currently under-estimated, despite the success he has had.
Richmonde, I haven't read that one, will seek it out.
Ed, very interesting! I haven't read the Tobin books but will definitely seek them out.