Read The Cinderella Killer Online

Authors: Simon Brett

The Cinderella Killer

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Table of Contents

Cover

A Selection of Further Titles by Simon Brett

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

A Selection of Further Titles by Simon Brett

The Charles Paris Theatrical Series

CAST IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE

SO MUCH BLOOD

STAR TRAP

AN AMATEUR CORPSE

A COMEDIAN DIES

THE DEAD SIDE OF THE MIKE

SITUATION TRAGEDY

MURDER UNPROMPTED

MURDER IN THE TITLE

NOT DEAD, ONLY RESTING

DEAD GIVEAWAY

WHAT BLOODY MAN IS THAT

A SERIES OF MURDERS

CORPORATE BODIES

A RECONSTRUCTED CORPSE

SICKEN AND SO DIE

DEAD ROOM FARCE

A DECENT INTERVAL *

THE CINDERELLA KILLER *

The Fethering Mysteries

THE BODY ON THE BEACH

DEATH ON THE DOWNS

THE TORSO IN THE TOWN

MURDER IN THE MUSEUM

THE HANGING IN THE HOTEL

THE WITNESS A
T THE WEDDING

THE STABBING IN THE STABLES

DEATH UNDER THE DRYER

BLOOD AT THE BOOKIES

THE POISONING IN THE PUB

THE SHOOTING IN THE SHOP

BONES UNDER THE BEACH HUT

GUNS IN THE GALLERY *

THE CORPSE ON THE COURT *

THE STRANGLING ON THE STAGE *

*
available from Severn House

THE CINDERELLA KILLER
A Charles Paris Novel
Simon Brett

 

 

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 
 

First published in Great Britain and the USA 2014 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
19 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM2 5DA.

eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digitalan imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited.

Copyright © 2014 by Simon Brett.

The right of Simon Brett to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Brett, Simon author.

The Cinderella killer. – (A Charles Paris mystery)

1. Paris, Charles (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Murder–Investigation–England–Eastbourne (East Sussex)–Fiction. 3. Actors–Fiction. 4. Pantomime

(Christmas entertainment)–Fiction. 5. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title II. Series

823.9'2-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-064-5 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-546-6 (trade paper)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-542-0 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

To
Caro,
with love and thanks for directing
my pantos so sympathetically

ONE

FAIRY GODMOTHER: So welcome! Everything is grand

In good Prince Charming's happy land!

‘S
ure, I know what pantomime means,' asserted Kenny Polizzi.

‘Really?' said Charles Paris.

‘Hell, yes. It's all that whiteface shtick, isn't it? Stuff that kids at theatre school do, before hopefully growing out of it. Pretending they're locked in boxes and feeling their way out, leaning against invisible bars, garbage like that. Who's that French guy who did it all the time? Marcel Somebody?'

‘Marcel Marceau. But no, that's not pantomime. That's mime.'

‘Pantomime – mime – what's the difference?' The large man shrugged. He seemed unaware that everyone in the Sea Dog pub in Eastbourne, while pretending not to, was looking at him. Maybe he genuinely hadn't noticed. More likely, it seemed to Charles, Kenny Polizzi was just used to being recognized everywhere he went.

He was the star of the American sitcom
The Dwight House
. Though the show had been discontinued some five years previously, so many episodes had been made during its glory years that there wasn't any time day or night when one wasn't being screened somewhere in the world. Dwight Bredon, as played by Kenny Polizzi, had the same kind of brand recognition as Ronald McDonald.

He was trimmer than he had been in
The Dwight House
years. His formerly ample figure had suited the slightly slobbish character of Dwight Bredon, whose house was home to his children from three marriages and, as the writers became increasingly desperate for storylines, any number of cousins, school friends, waifs, strays, dogs, cats, gerbils and even an alien.

Though Kenny Polizzi was probably about the same age as Charles Paris himself, in his late fifties, his body's contours suggested habitual attendance at a gym (not a venue ever frequented by Charles). The gingerish wig he wore exactly copied the style adopted by Dwight Bredon in all those many episodes. It was a very good wig, though not so good that Charles was left in any doubt it was one. Having been an actor for so long, his antennae for unnatural hair enhancement were particularly sensitive. He was fortunate still to have a good covering on top of his head, so Charles Paris only wore wigs when – as female actors say when justifying taking their clothes off – ‘the script demanded it'.

His hair was getting increasingly grey at the temples – still hopefully just on the side of
distingué
rather than decrepit – and he hoped when the grey had colonized all of his head he'd resist the temptation to dye it. So far as Charles could see from the evidence of other actors, the only tint available for men was the colour of conkers. And he didn't fancy going around looking like that. He had his pride.

Charles was drinking a large Bell's with ice. Kenny had a sparkling mineral water, without even ice or lemon. Though he had been through the phases of hellraising, alcohol and other substance abuse required for the CV of a major star, all that was now apparently behind him. The body of the new squeaky clean Kenny Polizzi was a temple (whereas that of Charles Paris was more like a small deconsecrated chapel in need of restoration).

Kenny had just arrived in England. He had been due the previous day, Monday the twenty-sixth of November, for the first rehearsal for the Empire Theatre Eastbourne's Christmas production of
Cinderella
, but a terrorist alert had closed Heathrow. As a result he'd arrived in a limo at the end of the second day's rehearsal, by which time the producer, director and most of the cast had left. So the limo had drawn up at the rehearsal venue, St Asaph's Church Halls, virtually next door to the Empire Theatre, to find only one young harassed stage manager.

She knew it was a fairly safe bet that Charles Paris would be in the Sea Dog, so she had taken the American star to meet him there, while she tried to sort out what had happened to the PR company who were meant to be looking after him.

Given all these upheavals, Kenny was remarkably laid-back and gracious. Many considerably smaller stars might by this stage have been stamping their little feet and throwing their toys out of the pram, but Kenny seemed almost serene about the delays and disruptions.

When Charles mentioned this, he was rewarded by a Dwight Bredon smile and the words, ‘Man, I just needed to get outta the States. Now I'm outta the States everything's cool.'

‘And it was the prospect of acting in
Cinderella
that lured you away?'

‘Charles, I didn't need no luring. I was gagging to get away. I told the agent, “Find me some work, as far away from Hollywood as you can get it.” He came up with
Cinderella
in Westbourne – great.'

‘Eastbourne.'

‘Whatever. Just so long as I'm outta the States.'

‘You make it sound like you're on the run from the Mafia,' said Charles with a chuckle.

Kenny's eyes narrowed. And with a new level of seriousness he said, ‘You might not be a million miles from the truth there.'

Charles was a little shaken. Was Kenny joking? Or was he serious? Probably not the moment to dwell on Mafia connections, so Charles asked, ‘So you really don't know what pantomime is?'

‘I told you – it's black tights and white faces.'

‘No, it isn't. Didn't you ask your agent what you were letting yourself in for?'

‘I did not. I just checked with Lefty that the money was OK – which it is – and got on a plane. Or rather didn't get on a plane till twenty-four hours later because Heathrow was closed.'

Charles looked at his watch. ‘Your car'll be here soon to take you to the Johnny Martin recording.'

‘Is that a big show?'

‘Probably our most popular late-night chat show. Used to just be on a Friday and pre-recorded as live. Now it's three nights a week, still pre-recorded, though, a few hours before it goes out.' Kenny nodded with satisfaction. ‘And Bix thinks it's important you know a bit about pantomime before you talk to Johnny.' Charles referred to
Cinderella
's director, the former choreographer Bix Rogers.

‘Sounds reasonable. But it can't be that difficult. We're talking
Cinderella
here, aren't we? I know
Cinderella
. Everyone knows
Cinderella
. If you're my age, there's no way you got through grade school without having seen
Cinderella
.'

‘You're talking about the Walt Disney version?'

‘Sure. Is there any other one?'

‘In pantomime there are quite a lot of other ones.'

‘OK, tell me about them.'

‘Well, the basic story is much the same as the one you know. Cinderella is the downtrodden youngest daughter of three, and the older two are her Ugly Sisters – stepsisters, actually. She wants to go to Prince Charming's ball, but—'

‘Charles, I know this stuff.'

‘Yes, I'm sure you do. But what you don't know is that in pantomime Prince Charming is played by a girl.'

‘A girl?'

‘And the two Ugly Sisters are played by men.'

‘Yeah?'

‘And then Dandini, who's Prince Charming's friend, is usually played by a girl too.'

Kenny looked dubious. ‘So pantomime's some kind of kinky transgender thing? It's not going to do my image much good to get involved in—'

‘No, pantomime's the ultimate all-age entertainment. Part of the regular Christmas ritual for many British families.'

‘Oh.' Kenny thought for a moment, then asked anxiously, ‘Does this mean I'm going to have to drag up for the show?'

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