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4.3 out of 5 stars31
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 2 June 2005
As the third book in this series, I have to say that I feel that this is the best. I know that this is out of line with many readers who feel that the same joke is being stretched too far, but my reasons are as follows;
1) I do not believe that the same joke is being stretched at all. Clearly the first novel had the most out and out laughs, as the comedy of setting noir style writing in Aberystwyth was being established, and so the comedic potential for the town itself was exploited to the full. In the second book (Tango) and now this, that potential has been exploited and the reader is invited to accept it as an alternative reality and see the town as a character in its own right, much the same as LA became a valid character in the Chandler novels.
2) The character development is excellent, with relationships deepening, and histories being revealed. Yes, you should read the books in order to make sense of it all, but that simply suggests a connected series rather than a fundemental flaw. I personally feel that the books have become less out and out funny, but more black in their humour, and more personal in their storytelling.
The two reasons above are for for me strong points, and I enjoy the fact that the author treats his readership as adults who can remember small details from previous books and builds on them. The books are very cohesive and as the laughs become blacker the series becomes more readable for me. It could be compared to something like 'The League Of Gentlemen' where once the settings themselves have been mined for comedy, the characters take over and the viewer becomes more involved.
It has to be said that the plotlines of the books are always entertaining, and in this book, I thought, hightly original. I thought the monkey plotline was genius.
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VINE VOICEon 8 September 2005
The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth continues the barely credible and achingly satirical adventures of Louis Knight, Aberystwyth's only Private Detective. Fans of Pryce's previous two Aberystwyth books will need no further motive to read this but for any humour-loving readers in search of something new then they could do a lot worse than become embroiled in this seedy, steamy underworld of Welsh seaside life.
Mr Pryce has developed the knack of writing like a homespun Raymond Chandler while concocting a cast of characters straight out of League of Gentlemen and a plot which marries missing monkeys, a shady orphanage (or waifery), a 140 year old murder and sinister men waiting at Shrewsbury railway station. The result is a book with genuine laugh-out-loud potential and a mischievous, yarn spinning quality which lasts right through to the final page.
JK Rowling famously began her writing career in coffee bars - Malcolm Pryce began his in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Somewhere out there is the open eyed entrepreneur who is going to spot the Rowling potential in Malcolm Pryce and put Aberystwyth firmly on the cinematic map where it belongs - on the west Welsh coast about half way down.
Read this before Mr Pryce achieves cult status and his first editions become collectors items.
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on 4 April 2005
OK, this book might not make much sense unless you've read 'Aberystwyth Mon Amour' and, ideally, 'Last Tango in Aberystwyth' as well. I'd recommend those first, because, in my view, 'Aberystywth Mon Amour' is the best of the three, and you get the backstory which has brought Louie Knight to this new adventure.
That said, this book is as good as 'Last Tango,' although I do wonder just how far Pryce can stretch his parallel-Aber, and there are times in the narrative where I wondered if he might not have tried to stretch it too far. Plot-wise, there's a few loose ends, and I read the ending twice in a bid to get some satisfaction out of it, which I still haven't found.
That's about as far as I can criticise the book, however. From now on it's praise all the way.
I'm not going to give away the plot, but the usual suspects are back, and Louie Knight gets to wise-crack his way through another surreal crime in Pryce's Aber that strange mix of the real thing and a truely corrupt & Chandleresque noir city, complete with police brutality, the distant world of Shrewsbury gaol and a whelk stall.
This is a novel which is funny, gritty and gripping all at once, and, if you enjoyed the previous two novels, you'll enjoy this one. If you're new to Pryce, but like noir or hard-boiled detective stories in general, then buy this by all means, and I'm pretty certain you'll love it, but you might want the background from Pryce's other books first.
In short? Required reading for old fans, and fan-making reading for newcomers.
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on 3 February 2006
I have all three of the Aberystwyth trilogy and from the main charcaters to the bit players every character has something to either endear you or make you hate them or more usually both. There has been no going throught the motions on the third book,a Welsh space programme and monkeys being brainwashed to be petrified of flowers.Where do these ideas come from? The interrogation of the monkey using sign-language (amazing) even using tough cop/soft cop tactics when a mild old women is doing the sign language for the police (bad language and all). It even had a couple of up to the minute storyline E.G. trying to use the D.N.A. of Christ (off the Holy Grail)* to cure Myfawny. *(Remember a crappy best-seller called "The Da Vinci Code"). All in all I can not understand why nobody has bought the rights to the book so they could turn it in to a Welsh film, all I would do is send copies of the book to a few of the bigger welsh names, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones (he must have conections in Hollywood) and if not he has got the cash. I'd love to see an explosion of Welsh Film Noir before too long. A book for all the family, at one point, when the local "Jack Regan" type copper is coming down hard on the town, someone is arrested for shouting some thing like "Cornettos here 99p each" for disturbing the peace. A book everyone should make an effort to read, and Mr.Pryce keep the good work up, I live in Wales and I keep meaning to get the train down to Aberystwyth for the weekend, to see if I can see any of the land marks,if I just saw the donkeys and tasted an exotic (under the counter) flavour of ice-cream I would come away from their a very happy man.
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on 23 June 2005
So I don't think this book is pitched as social realism...
It is extremely funny with some very well crafted, richly comic lines. The story is good, the characters entertaining and I didn't want to put it down. To anyone for whom the dry understatement of Welsh humour is familiar, you will enjoy this book. There were times I laughed with every fibre of my being.
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on 5 February 2007
This is a triumph, having read the Milan Kundera rip-off (fancy just dropping the name Aberystwyth and hoping nobody would notice) I have to say that Malcolm Pryce has managed to deliver the same ambience but, er, better.

Looking forward to the next one in this superb series not only because two years is a long time to wait but also because it isn't out yet leaving me with little choice. I don't think Bloomsbury realise what a great series they have on their hands. Revel in a proper book written gloriously - the only writer who seems to craft the page as well is Kazuo Ishiguro - just a delight. I feel for the reviewer below - to miss the pleasure of these novels is a sheer waste.
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on 7 August 2005
Third in the set and a noticeable shift forward on plot and story.
(Keep an eye on this author - he's got cult written all over him, and the last one I said that about was Terry Pratchett!
Not that he is the same type of writer, but he balzes his own path, and the outcome is very pleasurable)
A one-sit read. Recommended
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on 15 March 2008
I was delighted by something on almost every page of this book. The writing is of the highest quality. The sysnopsis may make it seem that this is simply an enjoyable (as long as you enjoy surreality) detective story with LA transplanted to Wales, suitably transformed in the process. True enough as far as it goes, but there are ideas, insights, and sections of prose throughout that give this book real depth and quality. One of the reviews on the jacket says they turned down the corners of many pages so as to be able to go back to some particular detail, and now I know why. Most reviewers seem to either love or hate this book, but few are indifferent to it. I love it. I hope you will too.
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on 30 September 2007
Take Mike Hammer from a Mickey Spilline book and put him in a welsh seaside resort in the darkness of the off season. Wry fun with the Welsh identity, Ice cream making italians and druid mafia wash through the grey and wet landscape as the mystery of the disappearing local diva unravels.

Violent encounters, a hint of romance and a police chief in league with the plotters .... or is there another sub plot.

My favourite of the Aberystwyth books from Malcolm Pryce and the one that I have read more than once.

Its not a pre-requisite to read Aberystwyth Mon Amor first but it helps you decide if you are going to relate to this book or not. I loved it and smiled throughout but its one of those marmite books. You will love it or hate it but you will not find another like it.
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VINE VOICEon 11 March 2009
Although my local bookshops usually have the other three volumes of the Aberystwyth series in stock, they don't seem to like this one, so I ended up buying it from Amazon, and reading it after the fourth book. Fortunately that didn't seem to matter much, though certainly it helps to have read the first two when reading the later books.

It seems churlish to complain about the implausibility of the plot of one of Malcolm Pryce's books, but at first, the story-line with its monkey from the Welsh Space program, Victorian murder mystery (with ghost), and amnesiac organ-grinder, seemed to have crossed the line from enjoyably ludicrous to plain silly, and the characterisation seemed thinner than I remembered from the other books. However, things seemed to improve after about fifty pages or so, and I began to really enjoy Louie Knight's company again. I especially enjoyed learning about the local "waifery", and the finer points of using tea-cosies in an investigation. I'm now looking forward to the fifth installment in the series.

This series is probably not for those who like their detective stories tightly plotted. In fact this series might not really be for those who like detective stories. And, although some of the books are very funny, I find that almost incidental: the writing is usually first-rate, many of the characters are likeable and quite real, and Louie is prone to philosophising in a way I often find thought-provoking and interesting. There is probably plenty of pastiche and parody in there as well; though
that passes me by it doesn't hamper my enjoyment of the books at all.

Readers who have enjoyed Jasper Fforde's Swindon and Nursery Crimes books will probably also appreciate Malcolm Pryce's books. There is a fairly fixed cast-list for this series, which sometimes makes it a little less free-wheeling and imaginative than Jasper Fforde, but on the other hand this allows the stories and characters to acquire greater depth in the long run. After four volumes I'm beginning to believe that the Welsh war in Patagonia really happened.
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