Book review: Death on the Pier

Jamie West’s murder mystery is set in Brighton’s Palace Pier Theatre during the 1930s, where fading Hollywood star Celia is taking the lead in a revival of one of Bertie Carroll’s early plays.

It’s a fairly standard example of the genre, with a few twists and turns and a conclusion I guessed a couple of chapters from the end. But – that’s part of the chatm of this genre, and this certainly fits in with most I’ve read.

However, the characterisations of those in the theatre and outside it are well-drawn, and the building itself (largely destroyed in the mid-1970s) becomes its own important focal point in the tale.

Playwright as amateur detective is an interesting slant, as Bertie teams up with his old friend, now a police inspector. There’s the makings of a buddy series in this odd couple, and indeed this is billed as the first in a series.

Together they sift through the aftermath of what might be a prop malfunction, or something more sinister. There are a nice array of suspects gathered in one place, with a few likely motives.

This was an easy bedtime read, and I enjoyed the depictions of company politics and theatrical performance – unsurprisingly accurate as West has worked in that world.

If you like deep, dark, psychological thrillers, then this isn’t it, but rather Death on the Pier boasts a Miss Marple or Tommy and Tuppence vibe by way of Lord Peter Wimsey.

You can buy Death on the Pier, by Jamie West, published by Brabinger Publishing, from the usual sources.

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