I'm an Aberystwyth alumnus, so it should come as no surprise that I hold Malcolm Pryce's Louie Knight series in affection. This fifth entry in the sequence is as good as any except, perhaps, the second one. The trademark Pryce style of absurdities and maudlin philosophising is present, this time with the balance tipped somewhat in favour of the philosphising.
For those not familiar with the series, Pryce has written about Louie Knight, Aberystwyth's only Private Eye. He works the mean streets of Aber, where organised crime, violence, corruption and vice all live side by side with the ice-cream stands, tourists, University and Welsh National Library. And that's the joke; Aber isn't the epitome of Noir fiction's cities - it's a small, old, quiet town on the West coast of Wales, unremarkable for the most part and yet held in affection by all the Uni alumni.
Pryce needed to dump a whole collection of ideas and characters from the previous books because they were getting tired and, bravely, he actually did it. This is perhaps why this book is slightly less strong on the comic absurdity; how many more Noir fiction/Welsh cultural cliches can he think of to stuff into stuffy old Aber thereby making them new, lively and hilarious? There's got to be a limit and it looks as if Pryce is nearing it. Perhaps this should be Knight's last case.