I’ve been waiting for this, the fourth of Malcolm Pryce’s bonkers Welsh-noir novels about Louie Knight, Aberystwyth’s only private detective, since I read the last one, The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth, back in November 2005.
It’s Christmas in Aberystwyth, and someone has brutally murdered and mutilated Santa. Well, a guy who was working as Santa in a department store, anyway. In his last moments, Santa writes the name “Hoffman” in his own blood on the pavement. And that’s just the start of Louie Knight’s problems.
I could give you a plot summary, but that would spoil the fun, wouldn’t it? But I will tell you that the story hinges on a terrible secret from the War, the director’s cut of Bark of the Covenant (a movie about Chip, the Welsh Lassie), and what really happened to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Along the way, Louie has to deal with the local police, who aren’t at all keen on “peepers” taking on murder cases, the Queen of Denmark (maybe), and the usual collection of grotesque and eccentric characters.
Can Louie crack the case? Will Calamity make it on her own as an associate of the Pinkertons? And who is Hoffman? All these questions may be answered.
It’s at least as bonkers as the previous books, and I recommend it to anyone who appreciates silliness. And if you don’t you’re probably not reading this site.
 This being the war in Patagonia that has influenced events in the previous books