cover image Psycho by the Sea

Psycho by the Sea

Lynne Truss. Bloomsbury, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5266-0987-8

In British author Truss’s clever, intricately plotted fourth Constable Twitten mystery, set in September 1957 a few weeks after the events of 2020’s Murder by Milk Bottle, a lunatic named Geoffrey Chaucer, who murdered three policemen and boiled their severed heads, escapes from a psychiatric hospital and heads for Brighton. Could Inspector Steine, the head of the Brighton police, be his next target? A zealous new police secretary, who’s been assigned to look after Inspector Steine, decides to fire Mrs. Groynes, the charlady at the Brighton police station who’s actually a criminal mastermind. Despite Constable Peregrine Twitten’s knowing Mrs. Groynes’s secret, he can’t help feeling sympathy for her after she’s fired. Meanwhile, an American sociologist doing field studies gets murdered in the music department of Gosling’s Department Store. Twitten, when he isn’t boring people with his enthusiasm for The Hidden Persuaders, a real-life bestseller he’s reading about marketing, eventually figures out a conspiracy’s afoot to rob Gosling’s. The complicated, often comic relationships among the principal characters provide much of the fun. Truss is unmatched in her ability to balance humor and crime. Agent: Anthony Goff, David Higham Assoc. (U.K.). (Nov.)