Last Tango in Aberystwyth is the second book in the Aberystwyth Noir series by Malcolm Pryce.
Summary (from back of book)
To the girls who come to make it big in the ‘What the Butler Saw’ movie industry, Aberystwyth is the town of broken dreams. To Dean Morgan who teaches at the Faculty of Undertaking, it is just a place to get course materials. But both worlds collide when the Dean checks into the notorious bed and breakfast ghetto – a dark labyrinth of Druid speakeasies and toffee-apple dens – and receives a suitcase intended for a ruthless Druid assassin. Suddenly he is running for his life, his heart hopelessly in thrall to a porn star known as Judy Juice. Once again, Louie Knight, the town’s only private eye, steps into the moral netherworld to make sense of it all. He knows that in order to find the Dean, he has to discover what was in the Druid’s case. It turns out to be something so evil it makes even the hard-boiled gumshoe gasp…
It was so hard to pick just the one…
The enamel hot dog sign squeaking in the wind, the doors banging and the newspaper gusting across the cheap concrete crazy paving lent a strange unsettling air to the place.
I love this series. It’s different, very quirky and like nothing else I have read. If I had to sum up the series in one sentence…”A fast-paced, dark humoured, surreal hard-boiled detective series that is wonderfully set in an alternative Aberystwyth.”
The surrealism comes from taking everything that makes a classic hard-boiled detective story, giving them a Welsh twist before placing it in the quiet seaside university town of Aberystwyth. And it works so well. I struggle to put these books down once I start reading them.
As for this instalment in the series, it was as good, if not better than book one, Aberystwyth Mon Amor (which I reviewed here back in 2015). Again there is plenty of witty dialogue, plot twists and comedy, but the author is also capable of writing some quite heartfelt passages too, which brings balance to the story.
Many of the characters have returned for book two (Aberystwyth is a small town). Some favourites include Calamity, Louie’s wheeler-dealing teenage partner and Sospan the ice cream seller (who is equated with the ready-to-listen barman in the usual hard boiled detective stories). But there are plenty of new characters too, keeping the plot fresh and interesting.
All-in-all, a truly imaginative series that I’m enjoying re-reading so much.