When Peter Guttridge began his Brighton Trilogy (of which The Thing Itself is the concluding part), it was perhaps necessary for reviewers (such as this writer) to draw attention to the fact that Guttridge’s skills extended far beyond the sharp and witty Nick Madrid crime novels, which inhabited the territory of comic crime. The more ambitious Brighton sequence is something else altogether: gritty, sprawling and continuously vivid in its evocation of Britain’s most celebrated seaside resort (and its notorious criminal underpinnings). As in earlier books in the series, the large panoply of characters here are drawn with maximum vividness (notably disgraced Chief Constable Bob Watts), and it is surprising to the reader that this relatively concise novel (weighing in at just over 200 pages) suggests that a great deal has been deceptively crammed into its colourful narrative. Guttridge has firmly demonstrated that there is more to him than being a dry practitioner of comic crime — but he has perhaps made a rod for his own back; how does he follow up his exemplary Brighton Trilogy?

Barry Forshaw

The Thing Itself Peter Guttridge

Severn House, £19 99

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