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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Novels go from Aber to the world
Malcolm Pryce
Pryce in the Cabin in Aberystwyth, a cafe featured in two of his books
A series of crime novels which all feature Aberystwyth in the title have found an unexpected audience a long way from Cardigan Bay.

Malcolm Pryce's Monty Python-style take on life in the town will be translated into Russian, German and Dutch.

Pryce lives in Thailand but his private eye hero Louie Knight is firmly rooted in the town where his creator grew up.

Pryce, whose books include Aberystwyth Mon Amour said: "It's nice, but I won't be buying a chateau on the back of it."

My mail box may melt with marriage proposals from girls on tractors from the vast Soviet hinterlands
Malcolm Pryce

The other two novels in the series so far include Last Tango in Aberystwyth and The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth.

It is not clear if Aberystwyth will survive in the titles when it undergoes translation to unfamiliar tongues.

But the move into the international literary arena is not getting Pryce too excited at the moment.

Pryce's latest novel (picture: Bloomsbury)
Pryce's third Louie Knight novel was launched in April last year

He confessed that he "didn't go overboard about it because, truthfully, I suspect we are talking about a pretty niche reader base here".

Pryce, who speaks German and Thai, is surprised the humour in the books appealed to foreign readers.

Although potentially quite popular with overseas readers, Pryce said he had only ever heard from one foreign fan, from Denmark.

'Absurdity with tenderness'

But he joked that when his books were translated later this year "my mail box may melt with marriage proposals from girls on tractors from the vast Soviet hinterlands".

Loosely-based on Raymond Chandler's private eye Philip Marlowe, Pryce's novels feature hardboiled, trilby-wearing gumshoe Knight, who deals with some quite bizarre and humorous situations.

"I've always thought the humour would probably be too local," he said.

"I'm surprised that there are people who seem confident enough that the humour will travel that they go ahead with such projects."

The author has joined the ranks of writers who have colonised a town and made it their own, but that is where the similarities end.

Detective Knight is unlike Colin Dexter's sombre Inspector Morse from Oxford and Ian Rankin's fiery Inspector Rebus of Edinburgh.

But the critics seem to like his work. One said he combined "Monty Python absurdity with tenderness for the twisted world of noir."

Pryce's next novel, Don't Cry For Me Aberystwyth, is published next year.




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