Murder has never been such fun…
When theatrical agent Daniel Bernstein sues the Evening Chronicle for libel, crime reporter Colin Crampton is called in to sort out the problem.But trouble escalates when Bernstein turns up murdered. Colin discovers that any of five comedians competing for the chance to appear on a top TV show could be behind the killing.As Colin and his feisty girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith investigate, they encounter a cast of colourful characters – identical twin gangsters, an Irishman who lives underground, and a failed magician’s assistant.And it’s not long before their own lives are in peril as they battle to crack a code that will lead to a fortune. Join Colin and Shirley for a rollercoaster of an adventure in Swinging Sixties England – where the laughs are never far from the action.
We join the book at the point where Evening Chronicle crime reporter Colin Crampton and his girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith are on their way to a run-down comedy club where Colin has to interview the owner, a murder suspect.
My Australian girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith flashed me a smile and said: “I like a laugh but the one thing I can’t stand is mother-in-law jokes.”
I said: “You mean like the one about the two men in a pub.”
“Don’t say it,” Shirley warned.
But I like to live dangerously, so I continued: “The first man said, ‘My mother-in-law is an angel.’ His friend knocked back his beer and said, ‘You’re lucky mate. Mine is still alive.’”
Shirl gave me a not-so-playful punch on the arm.
We were walking along Marine Parade towards the Last Laugh comedy club. It was one of those November evenings when you think stories about English weather can’t all be true. There was a cloudless sky and a full moon. The moonbeams cast long fingers of light across the sea. The waves broke on the shingle with a soothing rhythmic splash. A breeze as gentle as an angel’s sigh wafted in from the south-west.
Shirley said: “It’s not fair that mothers-in-law are always the butt of weak comedians. They should even up the score. Why are there no father-in-law jokes?”
I said: “There are.”
“A woman is talking to her best friend. She says, ‘Every time my father-in-law comes to dinner, he criticises my cooking. But, actually, I’ve got a soft spot for him. It’s that patch of earth by the trees in the cemetery.’”
Shirley said: “If you ever give up journalism, don’t apply for work in comedy.”
“No danger of that. Frank Figgis is the only stand-up comic around the Chronicle. And even he doesn’t know why people laugh at him.”
“Yeah, your Figgis sounds like a joke. But I don’t get it. When you said you were taking me to a club, I thought we’d be dancing. That’s why I’m wearing this funky gear.”
Shirley had dressed in a silver print mini-dress with crazy flared sleeves. She was wearing knee-length black disco boots. She had a silver band in her blonde hair. She looked every inch the fashion model she’d become in the past year. I was tempted to scrub the Last Laugh and take her to Sherry’s.
But there’d be time to play after I’d landed my story. I only hoped Shirley would see it that way. I hadn’t yet told her that we wouldn’t only be watching the show. I had work to do.
We crossed the road and headed up the street towards the Last Laugh.
Shirley said: “If I were opening a comedy club, I wouldn’t call it the Last Laugh. That makes it sound like someone is getting one over on a sucker. I hope it’s not us.”
“I hadn’t looked at it like that. But if I were a comedian, I’d be more worried about getting the first laugh.”
Thank you, Peter Bartram and Random Things Tours.
About the author
Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime mystery series. His novels are fast-paced and humorous – the action is matched by the laughs. The books feature a host of colourful characters as befits stories set in Brighton, one of Britain’s most trend-setting towns. You can download Murder in Capital Letters, a free book in the series, for your Kindle from http://www.colincrampton.com. Peter began his career as a reporter on a local weekly newspaper before editing newspapers and magazines in London, England and, finally, becoming freelance. He has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700-feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. Peter is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.
Follow Peter on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/peterbartramauthor. Twitter @PeterFBartram