cover image Sicken and So Die: A Charles Paris Mystery

Sicken and So Die: A Charles Paris Mystery

Simon Brett. Scribner Book Company, $20.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-82459-8

For actor Charles Paris, life is wonderful for a change: Frances, his wife, has let him back into her apartment (and bed), and he has landed the splendid role of Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Of course, none of this can last. At a publicity party, the director succumbs to abdominal cramps severe enough to hospitalize him. Enter Alexandru Radulescu, an avant-garde director who says Shakespeare ""writes only about sex."" As the provocative, spectacle-loving Radulescu slices and dices the comedy to shreds, Charles, who clings to a traditional interpretation, becomes increasingly resented by his colleagues, all of whom appear to be turning into Radulescu groupies. When, following a group dinner, another member of the company falls sufficiently ill to leave the show, Charles suspects foul play. While he sizes up who might do what to whom (and how many additional lines they would finagle if they did it), someone else prowls behind the scenes to stage yet another incident, this one fatal. For followers of this series, this is classic Charles Paris, with the interminably struggling actor again giving us Brett's (Singled Out, 1995, etc.) wry and entertaining view of the theater. The story is tightly wrapped around Twelfth Night, and readers who are familiar with the play will surely derive more pleasure from it than those who aren't. (Jan.)