Death on the Pier | Jamie West | Review

Death on the Pier

Jamie West

What did you do in Lockdown? For theatre technician Jamie West it provided the opportunity to indulge his other great passion. When theatres went dark across London due that virus you might have heard about Jamie used the furlough scheme and enforced time away from his latest show, Dear Evan Hansen, to pen this thoroughly entertaining yarn set in a world, if not a time, he knows all too well.

Brighton,1933 and celebrated murder mystery playwright Robert (Bertie) Carroll is in town for an out of season revival of his play Murder by Association at the Palace Pier Theatre. But when one of the cast is murdered for real in full view of the audience, Bertie turns detective to try and flush out the killer alongside old friend and police inspector Hugh Chapman.

This is a terrific read. Superbly plotted and very well researched. There’s a cast of familiar characters: the diva of a leading lady whose career is not what it was; the jack-the-lad young actor brimming with self-regard; the old trooper who has never quite been blessed with the big parts; the sweet young actress at the start of her career, and the producer trying to hold things together on a meagre budget. And it climaxes in a Poirot-style denouement when the plot strands and  protagonists are gathered together and the murderer unmasked. Jamie is a self-confessed fan of Agatha Christie and it shows. Not that this is a derivative copy but more a homage to the Queen of Crime given his own delightful twist. It’s crying out for serialisation as a Sunday night drama.

And beyond the cleverly woven plot this is an interesting historical story that takes us back to a time when Brighton’s Palace Pier had a theatre and the book includes a short chapter on the theatre’s history and what became of it.

For me as an unashamed lover of a good whodunnit and theatre this was a double whammy that hit the sweet spot but for anyone who appreciates a good story well told it’s essential stuff.

Coming later this year is Jamie’s second novel Murder at the Matinee so he’s found his niche in what is becoming a crowded area of fiction and I for one am right behind it.

Reviewer: Tony Peters