The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth – Malcolm Pryce

Well, here we are with the third of Malcolm Pryce’s warped noir novels set in his bizarre version of Aberystwyth. Which means I’ve caught up on him, and now I’m waiting for the next one. After Aberystwyth Mon Amour and Last Tango in Aberystwyth, things could only get stranger, and indeed they have. For a start, there’s the title. The first two had moderately silly titles, but this one takes it to a new level. Maybe it’s just me, but The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth is still making me smile, months after I first saw the title.[1]

Times are, as ever, tough for Aberystwyth’s only private detective, Louie Knight, and his sidekick Calamity. So tough that he’s having to move his office to smaller, less desirable premises. But at least he’s got a case, and a client who’s prepared to pay for a murder investigation. It’s a bit tricky, as the murder in question happened over a century ago, but life’s like that. It doesn’t help that his girlfriend Myfanwy has disappeared, and that, as ever very few things are as they seem. Thrills, and possibly even spills follow. And Louie gets hit on the head a lot before loose ends are tied up, or as tied up as they’ll ever get. It’s all enormous fun, and as I hinted, I’m looking forward to the next one. Which I hope will follow before too long.

What makes it so good is the mixture of dark noirish detective stuff with Pythonesque silliness like this:

There was a stretched Austin Montego parked outside with blacked-out windows. I stood and admired and the rear window wound down in awkward jerks as someone inside struggled with a stiff handle.
“It’s more impressive if they’re electric,” I said.
A man in a Swansea suit and aviator shades stared ahead and spoke to me out of the corner of his mouth.
“Fancy a ride, peeper?”
“No.”
“Just a little ride and a chat, I’ve got a message from Ll.”
“From who?”
“Ll”
“Sorry, I don’t understand.”
The stooge turned to face me. “It’s his initial, like ‘M’ or ‘Q’, the boss right?”
“That’s not an initial, it’s two letters.”
“Not in Welsh. It counts as one.”
“It doesn’t, it’s a phoneme, it’s two.”

The stooge is quite correct, by the way. :laugh:

Add in a Patagonian war veteran who’s going by the name Rimbaud[2], a monkey looking for her missing son[3], and you’ve got something that’s quite mad and quite brilliant.

[1] Not that I’ve ever read Milan Kundera’s book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, you understand
[2] With a gratuitous “first blood” gag
[3] Who’d been involved in the Welsh space programme :eek: