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Publishers Weekly Review
Brett's actor-sleuth, Charles Paris, makes a long-overdue comeback in his droll 18th outing (after 1998's Dead Room Farce). Paris, a has-been, is delighted to get steady work in a new, offbeat English production of Hamlet, featuring reality-show stars Jared Root and Katrina Selsey as Hamlet and Ophelia, and set inside a gigantic model of the Danish prince's skull. Root's lack of acting talent raises the tension level on the production, as do his and Selsey's efforts to out-diva each other. Before long, an "accident" and a murder allow Paris the chance to play amateur sleuth again. Golden-age fans will appreciate the fair-play whodunit, which demonstrates that the form can be adapted to a contemporary setting. Satirical touches, such as Paris's reaction to a documentary about the 1455 Battle of St. Albans partially set in a shopping mall, keep the atmosphere on the lighter side. Brett has a rare gift for balancing humor and detection. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* The title of this theatrical thriller refers to both the interval between the last mystery starring actor-sleuth Charles Paris (16 years) and the British equivalent of intermission. At the interval during the first performance of a new production of Hamlet, Paris discovers a dead cast member in a dressing room. In the eighteenth installment of this series, Paris has ended a long period of involuntary unemployment (resting, in actor-speak) by landing the roles of the ghost of Hamlet's father and the first gravedigger. Things have changed since the last time Paris was summoned to the stage. For one thing, the younger actors tweet constantly, carry water bottles, and visit the gym, not the pub, in their free time. And Hamlet and Ophelia are played by, respectively, a reality TV star who can't project his voice and the winner of a TV talent show who wants to inject pop songs into Ophelia's scenes. What hasn't changed is Paris himself, still drinking and vowing not to drink, still trying to get back with his estranged (for good reason) wife, still loving his work, but resigned to how unfair the profession is. And Paris can still solve the crimes he stumbles across because he can prowl around the most hidden parts of a theater, unnoticed as only an actor with small parts can. Two Hamlets, two Ophelias, a range of jostling egos, stage history and lore, and the wry figure of Paris himself make this more than worth the price of admission.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
After a 16-year absence, reprobate actor Charles Paris totters back on stage. Still not quite ready for stardom, Charles Paris is grateful to accept the dual roles of First Gravedigger and Father's Ghost in Tony Copeland's road-company production of Hamlet, to be directed by Ned English, whose outr artistic sensibilities demand that the stage set be a replica of the interior of Hamlet's skull. To fill seats, Copeland has hired television pop stars Jared Root and Katrina Selsey to play the doomed lovers. And that's when everything goes wrong. Jared is hospitalized when a bit of the set's parietal bone falls on him; Katrina falls dead when she switches dressing rooms, pokes her eye with a doctored mascara wand and sags backward off a chair. Who's to blame? The understudies, of course, who now have the starring roles. But Charles, lubricating his synapses with pints at the pub and nips of Bell's whiskey at home, has other ideas, which include sexual fantasies about the actress playing Gertrude, romantic notions about getting back together with his wife, Frances, and, in the odd moment when he's not thinking about drinking or shagging, wondering who else in the troupe might have a motive. Katrina's personal manager lacks a persuasive alibi. The assistant stage manager seems to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hamlet's understudy, now replaced by a young man Copeland is grooming for stardom, is seething. So is most of the supporting cast, and the nymphet the director is bonking wants to play Ophelia. The show, however, must go on, though it's destined never to reach London's West End. A cheeky sendup of TV competition shows, tweeting, texting and backstage egos. If the plot recalls that of Brett's Sicken and So Die (1997), well, that was funny too, even if both their final acts could have used a bit of tweaking.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.