The Comedy Club Mystery by Peter Bartram

It seemed to be enough trouble when Colin Crampton, crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle, was asked to sort out a little libel problem. Theatrical agent, Daniel Bernstein, was suing the paper following some rather negative reviews from the paper’s theatre critic, Sidney Pinker. That’s nothing compared to what the problem he ends up facing – Bernstein is stabbed by a sword that had been hanging on the wall of his office, and Pinker is found standing over the body.

Convinced of Pinker’s innocence, and, more importantly, convinced of the possibility of a good story, Colin puts his job at the Chronicle on the line to find out the truth. But he never expected the perils ahead of him – such as the American gangsters, the British gangsters, and, worst of all, a bunch of washed-up comedians…

My first time on the cover of a book – I think. Correct me if I’m wrong, authors, but I think that’s the first time I’ve been a quote on the cover. If I am wrong, apologies for missing it.

It’s clearly in the cosy crime genre – nothing wrong with that, I reviewed two such books last month – but to dismiss it so easily would be a mistake if that’s not your sort of thing. Colin is an entertaining narrator, certainly funnier than any of the comedians he comes up against here, and his double-act with his girlfriend Shirley, an Australian model, is a lot of fun.

The plot marries adventure-thriller with murder-mystery nicely, as the search of Max Miller’s blue book of jokes causes more and more desperate behaviour from the many villains of the piece. I think seasoned readers will assume there’s more to it than which gangster did it (and they will be right) as Bartram conjures up a good choice for the murderer. I was less convinced by Colin’s near-psychic ability to solve a complex riddle, but we’re not going for hyper-realism here, thank goodness.

So another strong entry into this series – a fun page-turner with a real whodunit thread through the plot. Definitely worth your time.


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