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Book Review: "Situation Tragedy" by Simon Brett

Charles Paris is a middle-aged, mediocre British actor, and he's also a philandering womanizer, and a drunk. If Charles isn't fumbling his way across the stage of a theatre, or bumbling in front of the camera, he is in a bar somewhere drinking. The one thing that Charles Paris is good at is solving mysteries.

In Situation Tragedy, Simon Brett adds another entry to the Charles Paris series. This time, Charles is tackling a minor role in a new sitcom for West End Television. When a series of accidental deaths begin to occur on set, Charles begins to suspect foul play. Between mad dashes to the nearest bar, and remembering his twelve lines, Charles investigates the deaths with his usual level of mediocrity, finding suspects in just about every member of the cast. And, he could come dangerously to becoming the next victim if he can't find a solution fast enough.

Brett, who has a long career of not only writing novels, but also writing for British radio and television, is no stranger to the world of entertaining. It shows in his Charles Paris series. Brett is diligent in recreating for the reader the world in which Charles Paris lives and breathes, that being the world of the British entertainment business. Situation Tragedy is no exception.

This novel, as well as the series as a whole, is a amusing romp, and light-hearted mystery that is a fast, but enjoyable read. Brett doesn't spend pages and pages describing gory details of a murder, which makes the humorous antics of Charles Paris playing amateur detective work well. Charles, with his inquisitive nature, bumbles through the mystery, trying to balance his investigation with the commitments of his job, and finding a drink as soon as realistically possible. After all, we all have our priorities.

I've enjoyed the Charles Paris series immensely, and Situation Tragedy is a fine addition. Like most well-written series, this is a book you can pick up and read without having to know anything about the previous books. Situation Tragedy works well as a standalone novel.

If I had one qualm about Situation Tragedy, it would be the ending. Although well-written, and quite tragic, it came on a bit abruptly for me. But, it was still worth reading, and I'd highly recommend it.

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