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Aberystwyth Mon Amour [Paperback]

Malcolm Pryce
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 May 2002
Schoolboys are disappearing all over Aberystwyth and nobody knows why. Louie Knight, the town's private investigator, soon realizes 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?

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 4th Impression edition (6 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747557861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747557869
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 487,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Malcolm Pryce was born in the UK and has spent much of his life working and travelling abroad. He has been, at various times, a BMW assembly-line worker, a hotel washer-up, a deck hand on a yacht sailing the South Seas, an advertising copywriter and the world's worst aluminium salesman. In 1998 he gave up his day job and booked a passage on a banana boat bound for South America in order to write Aberystwyth Mon Amour. He spent the next seven years living in Bangkok, where he wrote three more novels in the series, Last Tango in Aberystwyth, The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth and Don't Cry for Me Aberystwyth. In 2007 he moved back to the UK and now lives in Oxford.

(Photo credit: David Mitchell)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Malcolm Pryce's witty and scabrous comic thriller Aberystwyth Mon Amour is an original and diverting entry into the field of black-comedy writing--a genre which has enjoyed a long and healthy lineage, from Voltaire through Evelyn Waugh to the present day although lately it is pretty well the preserve of crime fiction. Making the unexciting Welsh town of Aberystwyth seem as fascinating and dangerous for his hardboiled 'tec as the mean streets of Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles is a daunting task but it's a trick Pryce pulls off with considerable aplomb.

Throughout Aberystwyth, schoolboys are vanishing without trace, and Louie Knight, the town's only private investigator, becomes involved when he has a visit from the exotic singer Myfanwy Montez (love the name!). She is the star of Wales' most outrageous nightclub, and is keen for Louie to track down her missing cousin, known as Evans the Boot. Aided by such eccentrics as philosopher-cum-ice-cream seller Sospan, Louie finds himself encountering a plot quite as labyrinthine as any which exercised Philip Marlowe. Surely Lovespoon, Grand Wizard of the Druids and the town's most powerful citizen, had a hand in the disappearances?

Nothing is quite as it seems in Pryce's outrageous and irreverent tale, which functions as a canny thriller as much as a wry parody. A good deal of the humour comes from relocating Chandler's sun-baked California locales to a parochial Welsh town, and all the clichés are ruthlessly exploded: Louie is visited in his seedy office by his sultry female client in time-honoured fashion. But it's the language, which leaps off the page, that really marks Pryce out as a stylist of no mean skill, and his bizarre refraction of Marlowe-speak is a real delight:

By the time I reached the whelk stall the drizzle had finally made up its mind and turned into rain, driving forward hard off the sea and into my face. The booth was quiet: no-one there except a kid in charge--a pimply adolescent in a grubby white coat and a silly cardboard hat. I ordered the special and waited, as the youth kept a wary eye on me; trouble was never far away at this time of night.
. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"Another sparkling debut comes from Malcom Pryce. ... rollicking black comedy...Huge Fan." -- Arena, Graham Grant

"novelist Malcom Pryce has done a brilliant job of deconstructing the private eye novel and throwing the pieces together to come up with this sublime pastiche," -- Books Quarterly

'Original, inventive, ambitious, playful, funny and a million miles away from the current stereotype of the laddish Bloke's First Book' -- INDEPENDENT

'Pryce's book promises to do for the reputation of Aberystwyth what Irvine Welsh has done for Edinburgh' -- Daily Telegraph

'Transposing the ambience of Chandler's noir LA to modern-day Aberystwyth is a surreal idea, but Malcolm Pryce pulls it off ... engaging and sharp' -- FACE

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A durable delight... 7 Aug 2006
I discovered Aberystwyth Mon Amour a couple of years ago in Waterstone's bookshop in Chichester. I laughed so much reading the first page that, having made a particularly public exhibition of myself, my only recourse was to buy the bloody book. I was a postgraduate student at UCW Aberystwyth in the late 80's and Pryce's book is a wonderfully distorted portrait of that pleasant but remote university town, viewed through the prism of a 1940's roman noir. But there's a serious undercurrent too about the folly and the legacy of colonial wars, and the characters are wonderfully named: a lisping thug called Valentine, a gin-soaked dwarf called Pickel and a tart-cum-chanteuse, Myfanwy Montez. Wonderful stuff - someone should film it (Jeremy Northam as Louie Knight?). The sequels, Last Tango in Aberystwyth and The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberyswyth are great too.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original and enjoyable 17 Aug 2005
Aberystwyth is not as you know (or imagine it). For a start it is run by crime lords; the druids. School boys are going missing and Myfanwy Monetez the star of the local nightclub asks the local private investigator, Louie Knight, to help find her missing cousin.
The language and imagery is great (in how many books can you find corsetry or a tea cosy as clues in solving the mystery), but yet I don't think it quite matches Jasper Fforde. However anyone who likes original quirky books such as Fforde or Pratchett will enjoy this.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philip Pullman Was Right! 8 Aug 2002
Read this book! I did, taking advice from someone rather more trustworthy than I - Philip Pullman, no less, who was asked by a child at the Hay Festival if he ever read anyone else's books, and replied earnestly, yes, he was reading a great one just now - Aberystwyth Mon Amour.
OK, coming from Mid Wales and knowing all the places helps, but even if you didn't this would be just such an enjoyable read. It combines at least three levels of brilliance: it is a breath-takingly funny spoof on Chandler, or maybe even on Mickey Spillane - it gets pleasantly trashy in places. It is also a spoof on Welsh culture, and the wealth of in-jokes there is amazing. Secondly, its very surreal and black comedy cloak a plot which, dammit, is actually quite exciting - I wanted to know whodunnit! And thirdly, there are moments of real tenderness and insight into the deeper aspects of human emotions - love, sex, war, guilt. Oh, and best of all, a totally accurate and identifiable-with perspective on bastard P.E. teachers, may they all rot in hell.
I completely loved it, and read it in just two sittings. A truly remarkable first novel.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger Than Truth 22 Feb 2003
Malcolm Pryce, self-confessed worst aluminium salesman in the world, appears to have found his true vocation with this stunning pastiche on the hard bitten Raymond Chandler type private eye thrillers of the 40s and 50s. Why can't a private eye operate from above an orthopaedic boot shop in downtown Aberystwyth? Why can't the druids control all legal (and illegal) trade in this quaint seaside town? Why can't a philosopher run an ice cream parlour? All these questions and many more Pryce sets out to answer in this cleverly fashioned and jibe poking homage to pulp fiction.
The plot, it has to be said, remains shallow and implausible throughout. What stands out are the character names - Myfanwy Montez, Giuseppe Bronzini, Herod Jenkins etc. - which locate this novel somewhere between Mario Puzo and Dylan Thomas and the wonderful jokes aimed, not so much at the Welsh, but at our perceived stereotyping of the people and their land. Sadistic schoolteachers are remembered with painstaking and agreeable detail - I myself recall a games teacher of similar evilness as Jenkins. Mine was called Colbourn though and, as far as I am aware, he never sent anyone cross country running in a blizzard.
A rudimentary knowledge of Wales, Aberystwyth, the role of the Welsh in Patagonia, the layout of Lancaster bombers and the value of whelks to the Welsh tourist economy are all desirable assets to the reader approaching this book but are not compulsory. An ability to suspend disbelief, to subscribe to the wildest of conspiracy theories and to laugh uncontrollably at the unlikeliest of incidents, however, are.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tickled pink in Aberystwyth! 14 July 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the funniest series of books I have read in a long time. The character's names are divine (Herod Jenkins, the PE Teacher was my favourite) and despite it being completely ridiculous, you really do get caught up in the story! It definitely helps if you're Welsh, or know Wales/Welsh people, because everything will just seem that bit funnier to you. I kept phoning my Dad (who still lives in Wales) to tell him the "laugh out loud" bits, but found them so hysterical I could hardly relay them down the phoneline for laughing - he's now borrowing my set of books and finally getting the punchlines that were lost in my fits of giggles. Malcolm Pryce deserves a medal for these - Da iawn! (Very good!)I can't wait for the next installment - "Don't cry for me Aberystwyth" - due out in Spring 2007!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Great.. 27 May 2002
By A Customer
Reminded me of Robert Rankin's "Lazlo Woodbine" stuff crossed with the League of Gentlemen and The Dam Busters. The plot was a weakness (that first novel thing of too many ideas in a simple story), the real joy of reading this is the detail and the descriptions of life in a small Welsh town. You occasionally get little paragraphs of pure genius when Pryce lifts away from the story and makes some serious points about Wales, colonialism and contempory life. Not for everyone (hence 4 stars) but highly reccomended, especially to Rankin fans and others who enjoy twisted, bitter humour and spot-on genre deconstruction
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time
I enjoyed this book and found it very entertaining. As a keen reader of Jasper Fforde and Robert Rankin i will say that i found it a little behind their 'noir' stories on quality... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Matt
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabluss
Loved this book, very funny. Cleverly put together. Couldn't help but read it in a very strong welsh accent in a Sam Spade type way. Wonderful stuff...
Published 2 months ago by Bangtidypurple
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah a Welsh Detective in Black humour fun!
It helps if you know Aber but its not essential! These are great stories that pull you in and don't let go, you get to know some wonderful characters, and having read this one I am... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Small Mercies
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant inventive read
This book put a smile on my face and made me consider visiting Wales. Half fantasy half crime a really enjoyable read. The first in a series that I intend to go on reading. Read more
Published 2 months ago by D M Bullick
5.0 out of 5 stars A very different, relaxing read
Read as a recommendation and an opening to the others in this series. Out of the box and a more than welcome distraction.
Published 4 months ago by Grendad
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book.
Malcolm Pryce's world of Taff Noir is dark, hilarious, and compelling - venture to Aberystwyth if you dare - great stuff!
Published 4 months ago by Simon Hodgson
5.0 out of 5 stars glorious romp!
Fun from start to finish, beautifully written with genuine affection. I couldn't stop once I'd started. Now onto the next one...
Published 4 months ago by dot crone
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Good
Enjoyed this book, although at times it was a bit meandering but came together in the end. Liked Calamity a lot :0)
Published 5 months ago by Magic Grandad
2.0 out of 5 stars An idea gone wrong
The retro cover of the book suggests a hard-bitten private detective of the old school. True, as the character unfolds - which it does with creaking slowness - we do find that he... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nightwatcher
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but ...
A good read, and the title had long intrigued me. I was however disappointed by the confusion between alternative reality, political satire and crime novel. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Phil
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