Peter James’ ‘The Perfect Murder’

Having a break from the word processor can pay real dividends. Sometimes a trip to the theatre is called for, and sometimes I am fortunate enough to experience a real gem of a play.

The Perfect Murder is one such play.

Perfect Murder

Peter James got the idea for the novel when he popped a simple enough question to Chief Constable Martin Richards at a charity dinner. I know this as, at the end of the play, Peter and the cast were kind enough to sit with interested members of the audience to answer questions. Peter apparently asked the Chief, “Is there any such thing as the perfect murder?”

The answer became the inspiration for this excellent work.

Shaun McKenna adapted the novel for the stage, and a very good job he made of it.

The play opens with unhappy husband, Victor Smiley (played by Robert Daws) as he discusses his poor marriage with prostitute lover Kamila (Simona Armstrong). We are soon introduced to Victor’s wife, Joan (Dawn Steele) where we learn that theirs is a marriage soon to come to a grisly end.

The action is set in the present day, in a small house in Saltdean, outside Brighton, and in Kamila’s room at The Kitten Parlour, a local brothel.

The entire set is shown on stage in  a very clever way so that the action never ends as scenes switch between the venues. Full credit must go to Simon Bannister and Chris Lambert for their work on the stage design.

'Perfect Murder' the cast

‘Perfect Murder’ the cast

Gray O’Brien is really excellent as Joan’s lover, Don Kirk and, it was fun, as Roy Grace fans, to be introduced to a young Detective Constable Grace, ably portrayed by Thomas Howes. Thomas captured the character perfectly and reminded me of many young detectives, recently transferred from uniform duty, even down the the style of his beat-duty shoes.

I wonder how many followers of Coronation Street, who saw Gray playing Toni (the Glaswegian businessman), were convinced he was a scot. I was, but now, having listened to his entertaining and engaging ‘Don Kirk, I was left wondering if he was a cockney.

Dawn Steele has always been a favourite of mine. I loved her in ‘Wild at Heart; where she played Alice Collins. Her performance in ‘Perfect Murder’ is excellent and gave a real insight into her ability to play a wide variety of roles. ‘Joanie’ is very different from ‘Alice’.

My final, and most effusive praise must go to Robert Daws, who really makes the character of Victor Smiley his own. Victor is entertaining, amusing, threatening and believable. Robert Daws is an incredible talent. I wonder how he has found the time to also pen an excellent book, The Rock, which had been getting many excellent reviews.

Dead simple

Well done, Peter James. An excellent evening entertainment. I for one, plan to go and see the next one, Dead Simple, which opens in early 2015. I understand that Gray O’Brien will be playing an older Roy Grace. I cannot wait!

Mysterious surge in sales – Matt Johnson

Like many readers, I love a good mystery.

I like to enjoy the story and, at the same time, try to spot the clues, see the twists and out-think the writer. More often than not I fail.

I now have my own little mystery to solve.

Having published Wicked Game as an indie novel two years ago, I have casually monitored sales and have become accustomed to the book ticking over to the tune of about a hundred per month.

Towards the end of November 2014, UK sales started to increase dramatically, to the point where, in the first four days of December, there have been over 100 downloads from Amazon UK.

The surge isn’t the same in any other country, just the UK.

Why, I ask? I haven’t done anything particular to market the book in the last few months, indeed I have been wrapped up in getting the sequel finished.

I’ve googled the title, googled me, checked Amazon promotions and even emailed Amazon to try and find out why. All without providing an answer.

I did learn that WG is now approved reading for schools on the Orkney Islands, though. That was news and I also found a couple of blogs where WG had been given a nice review. None of these seemed to be key to producing a surge for November, though.

One clever person suggested it might be due to the release of a single in the UK called ‘Wicked Games’ but I have to ask myself, would someone searching for this single happen to stumble upon my book and then buy it? Another suggested a link to Xmas, but these are kindle downloads, not paperbacks, although the paperback version has seen a small sales increase.

So, for now, I will have to keep wondering, scratch my head and smile every time I check the kindle sales reports. Long may it last.

Diving with seals

Following my last post, I thought I might describe how the weekend went.

The weather was excellent, sunny with an easterly breeze. Stayed in a bed/breakfast in Ilfracombe, Devon although we were ‘ropes off’ at 0730 in the boat so we missed breakfast.

In the rush to get on the boat I nearly forgot fins, mask and dive computer. Had to jog back to the car and kept everyone waiting for a few minutes.

Boat trip out to Lundy Island took an hour.

Saturday dives were good, saw a dogfish, spider crabs, pollock and lots of colourful jelly fish. That wasn’t what we had hoped for though.

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Journey back… a thrill ride. With the tide coming in fast along the Bristol Channel, Steve (our pilot from BC Charters) took ‘Jay Jay’ out boat out of the lee of the island out into the easterly head wind. As sea met wind the waves had built up.

First clue of the rough ride to come was when the boat lifted skyward, crashed down and a wave came over the top of us. I was on the rear deck, T shirt and shorts, and was completely soaked. The return trip took nearly two and a half hours. Luckily, the contents of my stomach stayed with me.

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Sunday. We entered the water in sight of some seals that were lounging in the sun. We had been in the water a few minutes when we saw the first of them swim swiftly past us.

It was an incredible moment, to be underwater with these beautiful creatures in their natural environment.

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One of them nipped at my companions fins, swam around then nipped at mine.

Getting up close, it was possible to look into their eyes, so dark and attractive.

They played with us, their speed and manoeuvrability far exceeding our clumsy attempts to track them and photograph them. The… one of them lay still. It posed… as if to say ‘go on, take my picture’. My mask leaked, such was the width of my smile.

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Did you ever see anything as cute as this? Mind you… they have big teeth!

If you ever get the opportunity to dive with seals I would urge you to take it.

For me, Lundy Island provided a ‘bucket list’ tick. Next challenge for me is to get under the sea with dolphins.