The Man That Got Away by Lynne Truss
The latest comic caper from Lynne Truss is The Man That Got Away.
It is July 1957 in Brighton, and the smartly dressed Brighton Belles parade along the promenade answering questions from holiday-makers, such as: What’s the quickest way to the station, miss? How many stones are on this stony beach, do you think? Here, what time do you get off work, and do you favour Babycham? And also: What’s the story with that young man lying in a deck-chair with all that blood dripping from him?
Young Constable Twitten has a hunch the fiendish murder of a romantic young council official may be connected to a notorious Brighton night-spot and the family that runs it, but Inspector Steine is – as ever – distracted by other issues, while the lovelorn, frustrated Sergeant Brunswick is just thrilled at the chance to go under cover, playing trumpet in a jazz band. Meanwhile, Brighton’s brilliant arch villainess (aka Mrs Groynes the station’s cockney charlady) is reunited – with alarming consequences – with the noble Captain Hoagland (“the love of my bleeding life”).
Fake gold bricks are touted about by a con-man with a wall eye, torsos are left in suitcases at the station’s left luggage office, and a major stake-out ends in fatal gunfire. Terrible waxworks proliferate. The “U” and “non-U” sociolinguistic classifications in Nancy Mitford’s 1956 Noblesse Oblige turn out to be valuable in the detection of phoney aristocrats. Also, a world-weary night-club crooner is killed by a blow from a humbug: a method of homicide that the author believes is completely new to the world of crime fiction.
This is the second outing for the youthful Twitten. The first, A Shot in the Dark, was hailed as the best comic crime novel of 2018 by the Wall Street Journal, and described by Barry Forshaw as “more early Evelyn Waugh than Agatha Christie”. It went on to win the Last Laugh Award at Crimefest. Book three will follow in 2020: Murder by Milk Bottle.