Charles Paris, stage actor and amateur sleuth, is cast in a pantomime (musical comedy/skit show) of "Cinderella" in Eastbourne. The rest of the cast consists of semi-famous TV actors, veterans of the stage, dancers, a boxer, and the star of the show - American actor Kenny Polizzi who headlined a smash TV comedy years before. Kenny, who’s been known to abuse alcohol and drugs, is on the wagon and ending an acrimonious marriage.
Actng rehearsals for the pantomime are difficult, with cast members jostling for good lines and good skits while being given no guidance from the director/choreographer who only cares about dance routines. Kenny, naturally, has carved out a large part for himself that includes bits and pieces from his old TV show. Thus the set seethes with jealousy and hard feelings and – to top it off - a couple of the actors appear to have a unfortunate history with the star. To add to the mayhem, Kenny’s stalker and his hostile wife soon show up in Eastbourne - as does his agent, who’s been known to enable Kenny’s bad behavior.
Charles and Kenny become friendly, hitting the pub after rehearsals and chatting about life's travails. Charles behaves as he does in all the books in the series, drinking glass after glass of Bell's whiskey or beer and neglecting his estranged wife Frances.
Soon enough cast members start to die and Charles has the bad luck to find the bodies. He decides to help the police by doing his own investigation of the crimes.
Charles' antics are mildly amusing in this light mystery. The parts I liked best (and which made me laugh) were the snippets of critics' reviews of Charles' shows. Seems the poor guy hasn't done a good job yet. This is an okay mystery, a pleasant way to wile away a few hours.
Rating: 3 stars