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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Colin Bateman - Mystery Man

review written by Ro Bennett and read for the recorded bookshow 4th August 2015

Kerensa, my daughter,  recommended these books as nice, easy, relaxed easy reads - or easy listening in this case as I have downloaded a couple of them from One Click Audio, the library audiobook service, to listen to as I potter.  

This is how Mystery Man, the first book in the series is described: A superbly gripping and blackly funny mystery by the king of the comic crime caper.

He's the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, ('Murder is our Business’) - a mystery bookshop in Belfast - No Alibis is actually a genuine bookshop in Belfast on Botanic Avenue… 

When a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency's clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It's not as if there's any danger involved. It's an easy way to sell books to his gullible customers and Alison, the beautiful girl in the jewellery shop across the road, will surely be impressed. Except she's not - because she can see the bigger picture. And when they break into the shuttered shop next door on a dare, they have their answer. Suddenly they're catapulted along a murder trail which leads them from small-time publishing to Nazi concentration camps and serial killers… 

Although it is laugh out loud funny, the book is brimming with intrigue and suspense and unexpected twists and turns. Mystery Man solves crime by pondering how fictional crime solvers would go about it. Basically it is comedy writing wrapped round a genuine mystery involving a series of gruesome and unusual deaths.

This book does touch on some serious issues. I thought that Colin Bateman simply had an amazing imagination, but one reviewer who gave the book one star was outraged because some of the characters and part of the plot were very loosely and inaccurately based on a few real life people and situations. I won’t reveal what or who, as it would be a spoiler.  ..

Mystery Man, the lead character is a total hypochondriac with an obsession with Starbucks. He is  plagued by doubts and insecurities, is selfish, cowardly and disloyal - but you find you love the character anyway. 

I found these books gripping, interesting and amusing. The narrator, Stephen Armstrong is absolutely excellent - he has a lovely Irish accent and captured the wry humour wonderfully well. I frequently laughed out loud.

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