BBC Radio 4 Charles Paris Mystery - The Cinderella Killer
Amazon on CD Audio : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charles-Paris-Cinderella-full-cast-dramatisation/dp/1785296043
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A great cast who work well together and the three principles who are worth any entrance fee
Not so interesting mystery story
Panto theme - but could be set at anytime of year
The Cinderella Killer
Charles Paris returns for a Christmas Panto mystery and as usual wherever Charles is treading the boards there is soon a corpse not far away – is the The Cinderella Killer going to spoil Christmas.
It is said that the strongest shape is a triangle and once again the refined cast of Charles, wife Frances and agent Maurice form the bedrock of this particular story and make it worth a listen.
Whilst the mystery itself and the characters that we get to know over the 4 episodes are welcome, it is the exchanges between Charles and Maurice, then Charles and Francis that entertain and keep you coming back for more.
Based upon the 19th book in Simon Bretts “A Charles Paris Mystery” series and adapted for radio by Jeremy Front it aired on BBC Radio 4 in tune with the panto season of Christmas 2016. Whilst panto is the setting, the production does not provide a stereotypical Christmas setting. There is no snow, no Santa and it has a feeling of a damp afternoon at the seaside – which it could well be, being set in Eastbourne.
The Cinderella of the title barely gets a look in and the panto itself is a mere detail for this story.
Throw in the fallen American star to take star billing, along with a reality TV star, neither of whom quite get what Panto is all about, it has a ring of realism but also of a feeling of familiarity and something that has been done before.
Christmas without the sparkle but full of character
Despite the lack of sparkle in the setting there is a fine cast of characters for Charles to get his teeth into.
Bill Nighy is excellent. The articulation and expression put into the delivery will paint a very realistic picture of Charles Paris in your mind. It seems impossible to consider anyone else being Charles Paris.
Francis, played by Suzanne Burden, is no put-upon partner in this complicated relationship, separated but together. Francis is a tower of strength and of strong spirit. Charles is blown about on the wind of temptation in pursuit of strong spirit or indeed a femme fatale.
These temptations do feature, as they do in every Charles Paris Mystery. Charles ,now, does seem more able to resist – certain temptations. There is still enough going on for the relationship of Francis and Charles to bring several comedic and caring scenes. In one memorable scene, Miles – the not so loved son-in-law, whilst not present in this episode, does generate a reaction from Francis that is more Charles like and Charles demonstrates his more supportive side.
Francis and Charles are no modern day equivalent of Steve and Paul Temple. Whilst they often sleuth together, the similarities end there. Think of the type of characters Steve and Paul are. Think how their relationship is played out in the Paul Template mysteries, then forget all that. Francis and Charles are definitely a modern day couple. A couple in the loosest of sense. If you are looking for a good example of a strong loving married couple in a morally sound relationship and only have eyes for one-another. Stick with Steve and Paul.
It is one of the joys of this series that each story can stand on its own. But over the course of each mystery we also enjoy the Charles-Francis story. It has gone through many a trial, temptation, separation and reunion. Their story holds true and consistent across each mystery. If this is your first Charles Paris Mystery, you must go back and listen to the older ones. Get to know Charles, Francis and Maurice a little better – and laugh.
Charles and Maurice also provide little snippets of comedy throughout. Maurice always giving the impression that he is dining at the big table. Charles lives off the crumbs – but yet they stay faithful to one another in their roles of agent to the stars ( Maurice ) and the never quite made it star ( Charles ). The jousting between these two is a necessary part of the chemistry of this series. Jon Glover, whose voice talents have been well used throughout his career, as Maurice completes this consistently excellent threesome.
So what about the mystery itself.
After being introduced to the initial characters it is time to wonder who is going to get bumped off. Normally you don’t have to go passed Episode 1 to find out. Once the body is in place, the suspects begin to be revealed and the unknown links and past collusions begin to surface. There are a great range of characters. The Panto cast with the stars and wannabes are the biggest element. Don’t forget the ex-wife to be, the friends, the scary fans – all these in place for a traditional whodunnit. These characters are all developed over the 4 episodes. As the killer is revealed, it makes sense – even if you were guessing right up to the last minute.
Praise as well to the production team for the usual high standard in integration of music, the general audio production and of course the phone ring-tones.
So this is a fine listen. Perhaps not the best of the Charles Paris series, but saved and lifted higher due to Charles, Francis and Maurice. Thank you Bill. Thank you Suzanne and Thank you Jon.
This production is a full cast dramatization and has been adapted from the book for radio.
It consists of 4 x 30minute episodes.
Previous Charles Paris Mystery full cast adaptions with Bill Nighy and first broadcast dates as far as we can establish :
- Sicken and So Die ( 2006 )
- Murder Unprompted ( 2007 )
- Dead Side of the Mic ( 2008 )
- Murder In The Title ( 2010 )
- A Series of Murders ( 2011 )
- An Amateur Corpse ( 2012 )
- A Reconstructed Corpse ( 2012 )
- Cast in Order of Disappearance ( 2013 )
- Corporate Bodies ( 2014 )
- A Decent Interval ( 2016 )
- The Cinderella Killer ( 2016 )
Where To Find
Keep an eye on BBC Radio iPlayer for re-runs.
Available on CD Audio : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charles-Paris-Cinderella-full-cast-dramatisation/dp/1785296043
And Audible and all good book sellers