I was fortunate to get my hands on an advance copy of the forthcoming Constable Twitten Mystery by Lynne Truss. Since the novel won’t hit the stores until November 9th, I’m limited in what I can say and I can’t quote the text — tempting as that is. What I can say is PSYCHO BY THE SEA gets my vote for the best title of the year. Indeed, it made me think Stephen Sondheim could come up with some amusing lyrics if the title were only a song.
This is the fourth book in the series, set in the British resort town of Brighton in 1957. If you didn’t think Brighton was a cesspool of crime and violence, well think again, because in the hands of Ms. Truss it’s nothing but trouble. And the poor — some might say pathetic — local police force is beset and besieged. Fans of the series will be pleased to learn that — in addition to the annoyingly clever Twitten, the cast includes the dimwitted Sergeant Brunswick, the neurotic Inspector Steine, and the almost (but not quite) lovable & larcenous Mrs Groynes, as well as some other familiar faces.
The author’s talent for concocting screwball plots, peppered with slapstick violence and mayhem, is at its peak here. And yes, a psycho does come to town, but that’s not giving anything away. The novel is funny, quirky, and delightfully odd.
I suggest new readers dip into the first three books in the series (The Man That Got Away; A Shot in the Dark; and Murder by Milk Bottle) before embarking on Psycho by the Sea since there are more than a few references to the previous titles. That said, pre-order it now so you’ll be ready to dive into Brighton’s choppy waters. Besides, it makes a great winter beach read.