IT IS a little known fact that the PubSpy likes to unwind to the dulcet strains of smooth jazz.

Ordinarily I don’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy it. High-brow jazz is a rare sound in some of the dives I’ve been dragged through. More often it’s the clang of a fruit machine, the din of a brawl, or the retching of some inebriated soul on the establishment’s steps.

Not so at the Paris House, Hove’s answer to a golden age Parisienne saloon.

I slink in to the slap of stand-up bass and a warbling scat solo.

There’s live music every night here. It’s what brings me back, time after time.

I’ve stared down the bell of a saxophone and shuddered as the room fell silent to a heart-stopping rendition of Chelsea Bridge and smiled to myself thinking of less pleasant pubs.

But it’s different this time. I’m here on business.

I order a pint of Amstel and a ramekin of ratatouille. It comes in at a hefty £17.50. It’s to be expected in this most Hove of Hove establishments.

I take a glance at the clientele. There’s a clack of high heels and the rattle of fat wristwatches at the bar.

The middle-aged, middle-class punters are decked out in full regalia.

I turn up the battered collar on my trench coat and tuck in.

The ratatouille is black and crispy around the sides, a good sign. It’s been oven-baked in the dish and slathered in goat’s cheese.

It may have a fancy name but it’s a basic meal. It comes with bread and butter. It’s a dense, stodgy,and homely thing.

People don’t come to the Paris House for the food though.

Or the loos, for that matter. There might be fancy signs for fin de siècle hommes and femmes on the toilet doors, but the cracked mirror and steel urinal in the gents give the place the whiff of a public toilet.

Back upstairs, the band bursts into a barnstorming rendition of The Girl From Ipanema.

There’s a good selection of beers at the bar and shelves creaking with wine and dusty bottles of Champagne.

Even with the eye of a seasoned detective I can’t explain the unicycle-riding puppet hanging over the bar, or the “wanted” sign offering a $1,000,000 reward for a man pictured wearing devil horns.

The bar is brimming with quaint details like this.

Two cobweb-coated chandeliers give the place a warm glow. It feels well loved, lived in and comfortable.

There’s an air of nostalgia.

The walls are pasted with old French newspaper clippings, faded absinthe advertisements, and black and white photographs of models with bygone hairdos and thick-rimmed glasses.

It’s a very attractive time warp.

I half expect to pull up a pew next to Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Picasso could pop out of the woodwork at any moment.

A man emerges from the bathroom wearing a watch chain and waistcoat, and I have to pinch myself to check I’m still here, on a stool in a pub in Hove in 2019, not a chaise in a salon in Paris in 1929.

The place is a posers’ paradise and snug at the same time.

There’s a man on table next to me in a turtle-neck reading a book.

On the next table, a party of happy diners are slouched in their chairs tapping their knuckles to a samba.

I sigh.

I doubt my next job will be this easy.

The singer has now eased nearly a full beat behind the rest of the band, and the punters are hunkering down for an encore.

I decide to make the most of it, before my cold hard detective’s mind turns to whatever watering hole I have to visit next.