The Company of Knaves: A Philip Fletcher Mystery

Simon Shaw, Author
Simon Shaw, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-18069-0
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-312-29989-7
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Shaw (The Villain of the Earth, 1995) sends up both actors and politicians in this witty romp through London's Soho with amoral and unshockable actor Philip Fletcher. As the London theater world mourns the death of gay actor Seymour Loseby, his son, Nigel, a Conservative MP, is being blackmailed: if he doesn't pay up, his father's missing and very juicy diary will be published. Nigel turns to Philip, his father's friend and fellow actor for help. Philip, unhampered by scruples, promptly blackmails Nigel himself: he'll get the diary if Nigel will help get him a knighthood. Philip quickly identifies the blackmailer as Doris Afternoon, a drag queen who runs a cabaret. Posing as transvestite singer Marlene von Trapp, Philip gets behind the scenes at the cabaret and discovers that one of the regular customers is a prominent attorney who admits to trying to sell the diary to the tabloids on Doris's behalf, in exchange for her silence about his sexual inclinations. This funny and bawdy entertainment is marred by some jarring brutality near the end; readers may also find Philip's amorality hard to swallow. (Feb.)
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