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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still

Louie Knight: The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still
Malcolm Pryce is an English author who moved to the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth at the age of nine and now writes detective novels set there. His books parody vintage pulp, using artwork typically associated with the hard-boiled detective stories that were popular in the 1930s and depicting a fictional, alternative Wales that could pass for something from a classic film noir. In reality Aberystwyth is a quaint little Welsh town but Pryce portrays it as being filled with crime and mystery, with all manner of sinister figures lurking in the wings. This is undoubtedly an in-joke that people familiar with the area will find hilarious but that will probably be lost on most readers.
The Plot
The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still is the sixth book in the Louie Knight series, Louie Knight being Aberystwyth’s only private detective. It features Louie attempting to find out the truth behind a local farmer’s encounter with an alien, solve the mystery of a notorious thief who was hanged for a robbery only to be seen boarding a bus twenty-five years down the line and figure out why shadowy government agents have suddenly appeared in Aberystwyth. The plot is sometimes surreal to the point of silliness but it is nevertheless cleverly constructed and full of twists and turns.
More than Just a Spoof
Pryce’s strength lies in his ability to switch from humour and surrealism to content that genuinely manages to pluck at readers’ heartstrings. Rather than being a one-dimensional parody, his book is full of complex, well-developed characters that would be believable if they didn’t exist within such a surreal setting. It is easy to become attached to the supporting cast, as they each have their own distinct personalities and provide a lot more than just comic relief. Pryce displays an impressively sharp wit and underpins the quirky world that he has created with a feeling of melancholy and the message that human beings are intent on causing pain and grief to one another in spite of the obvious pointlessness of their actions. The book works on numerous different levels, providing strange and often dark humour with a hidden depth to it.
Another impressive feature of Pryce’s writing is his ability to craft sentences that they are a pleasure to read. Some of his phrasing is bordering on poetic and he manages to keep his style accessible whilst demonstrating that he has perfectly mastered the written word. The structure of his book is also cleverly thought out, with the pace and mood changing at regular intervals in order to maintain the attention of the reader. This is done seamlessly and subtly without seeming clumsy or deliberate and creates a sense of nail-biting suspense.
The Downside
The only thing about The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still that is slightly disappointing is its failure to build upon some of the characters introduced earlier on in the series. Louie’s love interest Myfanwy, who was present in the first few books, does not make an appearance, which leaves the reader wondering where she has got to, and Llunos, a policeman who Louie has developed a love/hate relationship with, is also nowhere to be seen. There were unresolved issues related to these characters that readers were led to believe would be tied up later in the series. The fact that they are not even mentioned gives the impression that Pryce has lost interest in them and introduced a new cast of characters without bothering to finish telling their stories. However this leaves room for them to be re-introduced in a future Louie Knight book and still fails to detract from the quality of the story to an extent where it is no longer fun to read. If there are any book deals that enable you to purchase the entire series, I would recommend doing so but if not, the lack of inclusion of these characters might even add to readers’ enjoyment of The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still, as it means that it can be read as a standalone title even if you have no knowledge of the previous books.
Overall Verdict
The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still is both a skilful parody and a well-constructed detective story. It manages to straddle the line between humour and serious content, captivating readers whilst simultaneously making them laugh. I would recommend this book for pulp fans who are able to take a humorous look at the genre and enjoy a story with plenty of hidden twists.
Reviews By Eve
Evelyn Robinson

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