An Unnecessary Murder
Simon has written his first play An Unnecessary Murder - and it's based on the tvdetective series of books. He now wants to make it available to theatre groups across the country in a charitable effort to raise money for good causes.
The play borrows a little from the first novel, The TV Detective, as it begins with how Dan and Adam meet. Some of the characters from the book also feature, but the ending is a new one. For Simon, that's a matter of artistic integrity, not to mention pride.
As in The TV Detective, it surrounds the brutal murder of a notorious business figure. But this time the killing appears to have been carried out for an entirely inexplicable reason, he teases. I wouldn't want audiences to come along thinking they know the ending and I'm quietly confident they won't manage to guess it. I reckon it's pretty cunning.
The idea for An Unnecessary Murder came when Simon was giving a talk about his books at a literary event in Cornwall. One of the librarians wanted to know if I'd be willing to do more to support libraries as they were having such a difficult time with budget cuts, he recalls. I said of course, because I believe libraries are so important for local communities. I had no idea she wanted me to write a play, but by then I'd committed myself!
It's all been a revelation. I've never tried writing a play before. It's nothing like writing for television, or a novel. I had to spend quite a few intense hours at the library, looking up lots of famous plays and the great playwrights and studying how they work to try to get some tips. It was lots of work, but so worthwhile.
The money raised from the premiere of An Unnecessary Murder in Simon's home city of Exeter is being donated to Hospiscare, a much-loved Devon charity for people with terminal illnesses.
It's a cause which is so important to me, for some very personal reasons, Simon reflects.
I know just how hard it is for families facing the loss of a loved one. You feel lonely and adrift in a hostile land. Hospices offer loving and reassuring help, which is hugely appreciated, particularly in the emotional intensity of those final days.
I've been so moved by the reaction to the play, Simon adds. Many kind businesses have sponsored us, for which I'd like to thank them. The cast and backstage crew have been wonderful, all giving their time for free and bringing so much enthusiasm and creativity. The Exeter Brewery even produced a special beer for the occasion, with a donation from every pint sold going to Hospiscare. How about that for an all-round community effort?
But Simon doesn't want the fundraising to stop with just one run of An Unnecessary Murder. I thought; if I'm going to write a play, why not try to do even more good? So I'd like to offer it - free of any charges - to all dramatics and theatre groups. The only condition is the money they raise goes to a local charity which is important to them for their own personal reasons.
Despite promising to abstain from appearing himself, Simon was persuaded to accept a part in the premiere of the play. It's only a very small role, but I'm proud to say an important and scary one, he smiles. And it meant I could still sit in the audience and watch the play. Work that one out, if you can!
If theatre groups are interested in performing An Unnecessary Murder, they can get in touch with Simon via the contact page of the site.
The play opens with the maverick television reporter, Dan Groves, paying a prostitute to secure an interview. His shady deal comes to the attention of his editor, and sees him punished by being appointed the crime correspondent. It's a job no one else in the newsroom wants, and one with which he's intensely uncomfortable.
Dan needs to get up to speed on police work, and fast. His solution is to shadow a squad of detectives on a major inquiry. He meets the frosty and sarcastic Chief Inspector Adam Breen and his alluring deputy, Sergeant Claire Reynolds, as they're pitched into trying to solve the brutal murder of a notorious businessman.
There's no shortage of suspects as the victim, Andrew Brooks, had countless enemies. But the crime is baffling, as Brooks was suffering with terminal cancer and would have died naturally in a few weeks so why should anyone want to murder him?
And come to that, why is the irascible Adam so desperate to crack the case before the coming Christmas, and what of Dan's moves to work his way closer to Claire?
The trio meet a range of curious and colourful suspects, but find the murder was so well planned it may never be solved. That is, unless Dan's novel or perhaps simply desperate idea about how to catch the killer could actually work...
... which, in turn, might just thaw the freeze between him and Adam, and give rise to a lasting friendship and crime fighting partnership ...