Authors: Simon Brett
Table of Contents
The Charles Paris Theatrical Series
CAST IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE
SO MUCH BLOOD
AN AMATEUR CORPSE
A COMEDIAN DIES
THE DEAD SIDE OF THE MIKE
MURDER IN THE TITLE
NOT DEAD, ONLY RESTING
WHAT BLOODY MAN IS THAT
A SERIES OF MURDERS
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
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 Â© 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. â (A Charles Paris mystery)
1. Paris, Charles (Fictitious character)âFiction.
2. MurderâInvestigationâEnglandâEastbourne (East Sussex)âFiction. 3. ActorsâFiction. 4. Pantomime
(Christmas entertainment)âFiction. 5. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title II. Series
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
with love and thanks for directing
my pantos so sympathetically
FAIRY GODMOTHER: So welcome! Everything is grand
In good Prince Charming's happy land!
ure, I know what pantomime means,' asserted Kenny Polizzi.
âReally?' said Charles Paris.
âHell, 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?'
âMarcel Marceau. But no, that's not pantomime. That's mime.'
âPantomime â mime â 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 â as female actors say when justifying taking their clothes off â âthe script demanded it'.
His hair was getting increasingly grey at the temples â still hopefully just on the side of
rather than decrepit â 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
, 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, âMan, I just needed to get outta the States. Now I'm outta the States everything's cool.'
âAnd it was the prospect of acting in
that lured you away?'
âCharles, 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
in Westbourne â great.'
âWhatever. Just so long as I'm outta the States.'
âYou 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, âYou 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, âSo you really don't know what pantomime is?'
âI told you â it's black tights and white faces.'
âNo, it isn't. Didn't you ask your agent what you were letting yourself in for?'
âI did not. I just checked with Lefty that the money was OK â which it is â 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. âYour car'll be here soon to take you to the Johnny Martin recording.'
âIs that a big show?'
âProbably 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. âAnd Bix thinks it's important you know a bit about pantomime before you talk to Johnny.' Charles referred to
's director, the former choreographer Bix Rogers.
âSounds reasonable. But it can't be that difficult. We're talking
here, aren't we? I know
. Everyone knows
. If you're my age, there's no way you got through grade school without having seen
âYou're talking about the Walt Disney version?'
âSure. Is there any other one?'
âIn pantomime there are quite a lot of other ones.'
âOK, tell me about them.'
âWell, 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 â stepsisters, actually. She wants to go to Prince Charming's ball, butâ'
âCharles, I know this stuff.'
âYes, I'm sure you do. But what you don't know is that in pantomime Prince Charming is played by a girl.'
âAnd the two Ugly Sisters are played by men.'
âAnd then Dandini, who's Prince Charming's friend, is usually played by a girl too.'
Kenny looked dubious. âSo pantomime's some kind of kinky transgender thing? It's not going to do my image much good to get involved inâ'
âNo, pantomime's the ultimate all-age entertainment. Part of the regular Christmas ritual for many British families.'
âOh.' Kenny thought for a moment, then asked anxiously, âDoes this mean I'm going to have to drag up for the show?'