While I was hesitant to pick up this novel – Truss is best known for her grammar book Eats, Shoots and Leaves – I was smitten by her introduction where she confessed her goal of becoming a member of the Detection Club. After reading that, I was all in, and the book took me the rest of the way on its own. This is the kind of funny, dry, intelligent humor the Brits do so well, and the set up is delicious.
The novel is set in Brighton in 1957, and makes frequent reference to Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, a classic novel about gangs. Truss’s Brighton, while also beset by gangs, is a slightly less ominous place. The story opens as Inspector Steine is greeted by a new and enthusiastic recruit, Constable Twitten. Steine is pretty oblivious and only interested in resting on his past laurels – where two rival gangs took themselves out under his watch – he now insists, Stalin-like, that there is no more crime in Brighton.