Aberystwyth mysteries

12 05 2011

Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce

From the blurb:

Schoolboys are disappearing all over Aberystwyth and nobody knows why. Louie Knight, the town’s private investigator, soon realises that it is going to take more than a double ripple from Sospan, the philosopher cum ice-cream seller, to help find out what is happening to these boys and whether or not Lovespoon, the Welsh teacher, Grand Wizard of the Druids and controller of the town, is more than just a sinister bully. And just who was Gwenno Guevara?

Excerpt

LET’S BE CLEAR about it then: Aberystwyth in the Eighties was no Babylon. Even when the flood came there was nothing Biblical about the matter, despite what some fools are saying now. I spent the years before the deluge operating out of an office on Canticle Street, above the Orthopaedic Boot shop. And you know what that means: take two lefts outside the door and you were on the Old Prom. That was where it all happened: the bars, the dives, the gambling dens, the 24-hour Whelk Stall, and Sospan’s ice-cream kiosk. That’s where the tea-cosy shops were, the ones that never sold tea cosies; and the toffee apple dens, the ones that never sold toffee. And that was where those latter day Canutes, the ladies from the Sweet Jesus League, had their stall. I saw a lot of things along that part of the Prom, but I don’t remember seeing any hanging gardens. Just those round concrete tubs of Hydrangeas the Council put out so the drunks would have something to throw up in. I also spent a lot of my time at the Druid-run Moulin Club in Patriarch Street and I’m well aware of what the girls got up to there. Sure, you can call it harlotry if it makes you feel better, but I was there the night Bianca died and I’m just as happy with the word prostitution. And as for idolatry, well, if you ask me, the only thing men worshipped on a regular basis before the flood was money. That, and the singer down at the Moulin, Myfanwy Montez. And I know that for certain, because although I never had any money in my office in those days, I did once have Myfanwy Montez . . .

It’s all jolly amusing and pretty good fun – a real seaside criminal romp. Raymond Chandler comes to Wales in a Jasper Fforde kind of way. Some of the over the top cod Welshness does get a little bit wearing at times but, overall, it’s worth it.

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