The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still has been stood on the shelves for over a year now, but only recently have a got round to picking it up. I’m a huge Malcolm Pryce fan, so a new Louie Knight mystery has the power to pull me towards the crime department of Waterstones day one. But alas, my great unfortunate case of OCD kept me from purchasing this new adventure, all due to the size of the thing. My five previous Louie Knight novels are all one size, they sit together on my shelf quite neatly, whereas this new tale came out in jumbo size. It would look completely wrong against the others! And so I waited until the ‘normal’ size was released before I delved into an epic of aliens and mayoral elections. I don’t have a problem.
Louie Knight’s latest case has him on the hunt for a missing person, Iestyn Probert, who was hung in the past and now recently revived by aliens. Despite not being a believer, Louie takes the case due to the £200 up front offered from his client Raspiwitin, and so he and his partner Calamity venture around Aberystwyth to dig up some clues. It’s another interesting tale full of unpredictable twists and the dark beauty Louie paints of the characters and locations within Aberystwyth continue to cause reflection and show a very real world. Even if the characters are completely nuts. A philosophical ice cream seller, a supposed member of the Men In Black, and a candidate for mayor who likes to break things are just some of the cheery residents who live in lovely Aberystwyth. And wait till you meet the Denunciationists.
It seems a few regulars have been abducted to make way for some new cast however; old crush Myfanwy is nowhere to be seen and not even given a passing nod when Louie moves onto a new lady of the night, plus cop Llunos seems to be on vacation. It appears these characters have been brushed aside to allow the plot to move in the way Pryce wants it too, but it leaves a gaping hole in the well established universe. The story works without them, but for long-term fans, the absence is apparent and a little upsetting. I had to get some rum out to get over it.
The plot remains as strong as ever though, and while it initially seems that the multiple plot threads are bouncing off one another, it all comes together beautifully, though final answers regarding the actual case objective are rushed out in the final chapters. Instead time is spent on ice cream hallucinatory dreams, cannon shooting and the ideology that the universe is resurrected each morning. Incredibly interesting, but they take more focus than poor old Iestyn who seems to be the tool to allow this madness to take place, rather than a character of great central plot importance.
Despite a few chops to the roster and a quickly sewn up ending, the novel has a fantastic outlook on how one may perceive the passing days of life, and Aberystwyth remains the ultimate destination for the mind to venture into. This time with a sprinkle of outer space. Sospan is probably serving Greys ice cream after all this.