The Edinburgh Fringe and Charles Paris, actor and part-time sleuth, arrives to perform his one man show on the poet Thomas Hood, So Much Comic, So Much Blood. One of the shows to be put on by the Derby University Drama Society (DUDS) has met with a complication – one of the actresses “fell” down a flight of stairs – and Charles has been asked to fill in. What could possibly go wrong?
When one of the students dies in a freak stabbing accident – one of the fake knives was “accidentally” replaced with a real one – Charles smells a murderous rat and starts to investigate, when he’s not being distracted by the pretty young actress who he has managed to lure into bed. But when the killer sets his sights on Charles himself, he realises that he’s closer than he realised to the truth – despite not having a clue what is going on.
OK, so much for the “inspired by Macbeth” series. Who knew that the title of this does not come from “Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him” but from a poet that, to be honest, I’ve never heard of. I’m not a big poetry fan, but Hood’s name doesn’t even vaguely tinkle any bells. Anyway, he’s the source of the title of this one, not Shakespeare. Boo.
Being an early Paris mystery – the second book in the series – this is less jokey than the later ones. Charles’ career is not yet a series of near-misses and utter failures, and his one-man show goes down pretty well. His drinking is mostly under control as well. The plotting is a little tighter and more focused because of this, but it still follows Brett’s usual pattern of eliminating suspects one by one (usually by accusing them of the murder) until there’s nobody left.
It’s an enjoyable tale, more so I thought than the books that sandwich it, Cast, In Order Of Disappearance and Star Trap, light-hearted but not silly and a sleuth that you can sympathise with. The murderer was fairly inevitable, although there were a couple of decent red herrings and while this wouldn’t crack my top hundred mysteries ever, it was a fun read from an author clearly on form. Well Worth A Look.