BARTRAM’S MURDER MYSTERY MISSES THE PUNCHLINE

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The Comedy Club Mystery CoverAlmost every part of the UK has a large seaside resort, which was the mainstay of the British population’s annual two week summer holiday for years. It’s in these places you found donkey rides and men in knotted hankies,sporting sandals with socks (before the fashion police got to grips with the scourge), along with entertainers selling out small theatres in the towns and end of the piers.

The most well-known were Skegness on the Lincolnshire coast, Blackpool on the west coast, Bournemouth and lastly Brighton on the south coast. Following the  the introduction of the package holiday and economy airlines these towns have missed out on the large numbers of tourists that used to flock to there each year. Nowadays for Brighton and Bournemouth, some of the biggest draws are travelling away fans from their fellow premiership clubs and retirement coach parties.

I missed a few things last week too. Luckily not my wedding anniversary. But my friend and Blog tour organiser Anne Cater, may take me off her Christmas Card list after I forgot the date for this month’s first book review and blog tour. The book which is a murder mystery, set in Brighton, is The Comedy Club Murder by Peter Bartram, published by Peter Bartram Partnership on the 24th May.

Colin Crampton is the Crime Reporter for Brighton Chronicle. He’s summoned to his editor’s office one morning to be asked to sort out a pending legal writ against the paper’s theatre critic, Sydney Pinker. But before he can find a way of getting out of this job, theatre agent Daniel Bernstein, is found murdered and Pinker is now enjoying the luxuries of the local nick after being discovered at the scene of the murder holding the sword impaling the victim’s body.  Pinker claims he’s innocent and that the murder may have something to do with the disappearance of  a blue book of gags belonging to the late well-known comedian Max Miller, who was one of Bernstein’s clients and now Crampton has a list of five suspects; all comedians. With the help of his feisty Australian girlfriend Shirley, can Colin find the killer, the blue books and clear his colleague Pinker’s good name?

Another thing I missed this week was the whole punchline of this book, if there was a punchline. Maybe it was the mood I was in, which should have been a great one. But I’m sorry to say despite being in great form all round, what with my own annual holidays, a week on the Amalfi coast only a week away, I was just not getting this book.

Yes, there was always the feeling that I was one tickle away from splitting my sides open at the hair-brained antics contained within the covers , but then on the other hand, I don’t like my murder mysteries to be treated with too much flippancy and this is where I think Peter Bartram’s book lost me. It felt at times more like a Carry-On Film, when really murder mysteries are supposed to be tense edge of the seat stuff.

Even the books characters are parodies and caricatures. From the gay theatre critic Pinker and the local coppers, to the henchmen who stalk the hero and his antipodean love interest. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was an Irish character they meet in the sewers under Brighton during one escapade. For an Irish person reading it, this was painful.

This is English author and Journalist Peter Batrams (www.colincrampton.com) 11th book

Peter Bartram

Peter Bartram

in the Crampton of the Chronicle series. The others include Headline Murder (2015), Murder In The Night Final (2017), Front Page Murder (2017), Murder In The Afternoon Extra (2017) and The Tango School Mystery (2018). Peter has also written numerous articles for various magazines and newspapers and ghost written a number of books too on various people and topics.

Maybe you might find the humour in this madcap romp through late fifties, early sixties Brighton. Therefore, head down to your local bookshop and see if Crampton and his Sheila can tickle your funny bone.

 

Reviewed by: Adrian Murphy