“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him” From its brilliant opening line, Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (1938) grabs you by the throat and almost strangles you with its intensity. The lives of fanatstically rich characters, such as big hearted Ida Arnold who is investigating Hale’s murder and Pinkie, the psychotic young gangster, intertwine in a gripping novel that is well-deserved of its classic status.
The seaside town of Brighton itself is also one of the book’s strongest characters, as the glitz and grit collide.
Cathi Unsworth‘s marvelously atmospheric Weirdo (2012) also takes place in an English seaside town, the fictitious Ernemouth. Again two sides of the town are contrasted with bright lights hiding dark and dirty corners. A private detective investigates a 20 year old murder and unearths some nasty secrets. Weirdo cleverly takes place in two time periods (2003 and 1983), is populated with great charters and has a vividly, strong sense of time and place.