Monday, June 6, 2022

Psycho by the Sea (Constable Twitten #4)

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Psycho by the Sea is the fourth book of a procedural mystery series set in 1950's Brighton.  Based on Lynne Truss' BBC Radio 4 series with some of the same characters, this novelization is a decidedly odd & farcical lampooning of post-WW2 police procedurals. Released 9th Nov 2021 by Bloomsbury on their Raven imprint, it's 320 pages and available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats. Paperback format out in August 2022.

The author has an unerring ear for dialogue and setting. The book really reads exactly like it was written contemporaneously for the time in which it's set. The pacing is superb and it moves along at a good clip. I never found my interest flagging.  Ms. Truss has a deft touch with characterizations (she's been writing these characters for a while for audio plays, and it shows). There's a decidedly "keystone cops" element to the characterisations, with the lead policemen being naive and/or dim, whilst the criminal elements of Brighton attempt to exterminate one another with one of the chief underworld bosses actually working in the police department facility as a charwoman.

That being said...  for an almost cozy read, there is a prodigious amount of violence (much of it gratuitous). People are constantly being stabbed, bashed with rocks, shot, throttled, run over, and otherwise mutilated.  There is a disconcerting amount of *glee* in the descriptions.

The language is way over the top. The violence is omnipresent. I personally loved the denouement, but readers who need everything to be tied up in a neat bow with the good guys the unequivocal winners by page 298 are going to be driven mad by the end.

Four stars. Worth a read, but definitely different. Not a cozy, and not precisely a procedural.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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