Show Biz Mystery Series

For many years, Simon Brett wrote the Charles Paris books. Paris was a hack actor who managed to be hired (usually once) in every possible different branch of British show business. An excellent series, if you liked character and setting more than the quality of the mystery itself.

George Baxt used to have a Hollywood series, the XXX Murder Case, in which XXX was the name of some famous Hollywood actor (or pair) from the 30s through the 50s. Everybody from Humphrey Bogart to Greta Garbo starred. Again, the mysteries weren’t much but the level of gossip and general bitchiness made the books great reading (although they badly trailed off toward the end of his life).

I can only think of a few more show biz series, none of them of the same quality. Steve Allen lent his name to a series of ghostwritten books starring him as a detective in various branches of the business, as close to the Charles Paris books as I know of. Stuart Kaminsky did the Toby Peters series, which featured a down and out private eye from the 1940s who did cases featuring Hollywood stars, although the series went on to include non-Hollywood celebs. And hack extraordinaire Ron Goulart has been pumping out a series in which Groucho Marx is the detective, about which the less said the better.

I can think of other writers who set a case or two in Hollywood, but are there any other print series about show business? And are any of them any good?


C’mon mystery buffs!

I know I’ve read at least a couple, but I’m having a devil of a time remembering the authors or series. Do you want only “real” showbiz (referencing real people, even if in fictional situations)?

You might like to check out the Phillip Fletcher series by Simon Shaw. They are more thriller than mystery, though, and the main charaqcter is very much the anti-hero. I think that if Philip Fletcher and Charles Paris ever meet there would be a Tunguska explosion.

Ray Bradbury has written three mystery novels set in Los Angeles that involve show business types to varying degrees. The narrator of each is a fictionalized version of Bradbury himself, at various periods in his life. Death Is a Lonely Business is set in 1949, A Graveyard for Lunatics in 1954, and Let’s All Kill Constance in 1960.

The second novel is set in a Hollywood movie studio and an adjoining cemetery. The title character of the third novel is a silent movie star of the 1920s.

I loved the Charles Paris series. I always thought it would be a wonderful Mystery! on PBS.

I also enjoy the Toby Peters mystery series especially the delightfully drawn secondary characters.

I’m doing this by memory, so I apologize for being vague. I came across a paperback mystery with a gay screen writer teamed with a hardboiled ex-Hollywood PI (who was a little homophobic) and it was a great novel (today’s LA/Hollywood was the setting). The implications were that there would be others in the series, but I have moved twice since I read it and I packed the book away and it is in storage somewhere. I would love to find more in the series, but I can’t remember the author or even the characters’ names.

Being even more vague (if that’s possible) I read one and a half mysteries of an English series where the sleuth was a young actress (the second or third lead) who had some sort of bond with a detective who was investigating a murder of one of the players. In the other it was the murder of somebody’s manager. I only got half way through the second one because the plot was such a stretch.

I read another English mystery where opera was the setting and the sleuth was a minor member of the company. It was quite good. I learned quite a bit about opera. It seemed as if it could have been part of a series but it was the only one I read. Of course, I don’t remember the author.

My wife says the Inspector Coffin series of English mysteries also wanders in and out of the theater.

I have at least one of the Bradbury’s, but I remember nothing about it. Maybe I should look at it again.

I will check out those Simon Shaw books, though. Thanks.

You’d think that the Charles Paris books would be perfect for adaptation, especially since Brett was a former tv writer and must have contacts up the wazoo. Maybe no actor would ever want to get associated with the role? :smiley:

You might also take a look at David Handler’s series about ghostwriter Stewart Hoag, who in the course of his profession deals mostly with actors, directors, rock stars, and such. The characters tended to be thinly-disguised versions of real people, as I recall.

I still can’t remember any of the books I think I’ve read.

I did go here and ran some searches. I found a few things that might fit, a series by Rick Copp called Actor’s Guide Mysteries, also series by Les Roberts and Linda Barnes. Don’t know if they are quite what you wanted. Apologies.

Stephen Humphrey Bogart (i.e. Bogie Jr.) has a couple. The first, As Time Goes By, made Publisher’s Weekly say “Readers looking for a great Bogart work should stick to the big screen.” I didn’t read either.

I read one by Simon Hawke featuring Shakespeare himself as the detective. Amazon says he has four. It was pretty good, and the reviewers seem to like the series.

I’ve put several holds on at my library website. I’ve started with the first book in the series, which is not always the best place, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I don’t know why. I mean it would be like Olivier when he did the Entertainer (well, almost). A wonderfully flawed character, yet the hero. I would think a veteran actor would die for the role.