Simon Brett (born 28 October 1945 in Worcester Park, Surrey, England) is a prolific writer of whodunnits. The son of a Chartered Surveyor, Brett was educated at Dulwich College and Wadham College, Oxford, where he got a first class honours degree in English. He then joined the BBC as a trainee and worked for BBC Radio and London Weekend Television before devoting most of his time to writing from the late 1970s. He is married with three children and lives in Arundel, West Sussex, England. He is the current president of the Detection Club.
While with the BBC, Brett produced the first ever episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as well as many episodes of cult comedy series The Burkiss Way, comedy series I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and comedy panel game Just a Minute. In the mid-1990s, Brett wrote and hosted Foul Play, a radio panel game in which well-known writers of detective fiction were challenged to solve a dramatised mystery. Moving into television, Brett was responsible for producing End of Part One and the television revival of The Glums for LWT.
More recently, he has become an accomplished sitcom writer, most notably with BBC Radio 4's After Henry and No Commitments and Smelling of Roses. After Henry was later produced on television for ITV. He has written a number of episodes of the BBC radio detective drama Baldi (2000)
Brett has written three series of detective novels. Most of these novels are in the "Golden Age" tradition of detective fiction, entertaining the reader through humour, eccentric characters, and intricate plot twists. He has also written several mystery plays and some non-series novels, of which A Shock to the System (1984) is probably best known due to the filmed version starring Michael Caine as the business executive who takes revenge after being passed over for promotion.
Charles Paris is an unhappily separated (but not divorced more than 30 years on), moderately successful actor with a slight drinking problem who gets entangled in all sorts of crimes, and finds himself in the role of unwilling amateur detective. There are seventeen novels featuring this character:
Cast, In Order of Disappearance (1975)
So Much Blood (1976)
Star Trap (1977)
An Amateur Corpse (1978)
A Comedian Dies (1979)
The Dead Side of the Mike (1980)
Situation Tragedy (1981)
Murder Unprompted (1982)
Murder in the Title (1983)
Not Dead, Only Resting (1984)
Dead Giveaway (1985)
What Bloody Man Is That? (1987)
A Series of Murders (1989)
Corporate Bodies (1991)
A Reconstructed Corpse (1993)
Sicken and So Die (1995)
Dead Room Farce (1998)
Cast, In Order of Disappearance and So Much Blood were both adapted as serials for Radio 2 with Francis Matthews in the lead role in the 1980s.
More recently, Bill Nighy has played Charles Paris in a series of BBC Radio productions. The first, an adaptation of So Much Blood for the Saturday Play in 1999, was recorded on location at its Edinburgh Fringe setting. A Series of Murders followed as another Saturday Play in 2004, leading into a number of half-hour serials which began with Sicken and So Die (2006) and continued with Murder Unprompted (2007) and The Dead Side of the Mike (2008), with So Much Blood apparently happening between the last two serials. These serials have all been updated, and adapted to deal with continuity problems caused by the adaptations being made out of order compared with the books, with later adaptations featuring more far-ranging changes to the actual mystery.
The latest serial, Cast In Order of Disappearance, again starring Bill Nighy as Charles Paris, began airing on Friday 29 January 2010 on BBC Radio 4. On 26 February its slot wil be taken for three weeks by an original series from Brett, while a three hour I Did It My Way programme showcasing Brett's work will be rebroadcast by BBC Radio 7 on Saturday 20 February, including a repeat of A Series of Murders.
Mrs Pargeter is a widow with a shadowy past who, with a little help from her dead husband's friends, is able to solve uncanny mysteries. The Mrs Pargeter novels include:
A Nice Class of Corpse (1986)
Mrs, Presumed Dead (1988)
Mrs Pargeter's Package (1990)
Mrs Pargeter's Pound of Flesh (1992)
Mrs Pargeter's Plot (1996)
Mrs Pargeter's Point of Honour (1999)
Fethering is a fictitious village on England's south coast (adjacent to Tarring). It is the place of residence of amateur sleuths Carole Seddon, a retired civil servant and her neighbour, Jude Nichols, whose origins are obscure. Eleven Fethering mysteries have been published so far: