Bateman - 'The Day of the Jack Russell'
The reputation of the mystery man who owns the No Alibis bookshop in Belfast, as a solver of crime, had spread. Into his shop comes Billy Randall who runs a low cost airline. He has been lampooned on YouTube by a couple of young men who have lewdly doctored his features on an advertising billboard. Randall wants 'mystery man' to discover who the men are so he can remonstrate with them. Along with his sometime estranged, pregnant, girl-friend Alison and Jeff, his "put upon" part time assistant/student and Amnesty International supporter, he sets about identifying the men.
The success of solving who these men are - the painters and decorators, Ronnie Crabs and Jimbo Collins, is short lived when they are both found murdered. Both mystery man and Randall fall under the suspicions of the police and mystery man and his assistants must try and find out who was responsible. The stuffed dog of the Chief Constable (the Jack Russell of the title), MI5, local drug dealers and Starbucks all play their part in the mystery! Mystery man's mother, wheelchair bound after a stroke and causing confusion both in the shop and over his relationship with Alison, also gets into the act.
This is the second book in the Mystery Man series which is comic and full of humour as well as literary references. The author is best known for his Dan Starkey novels, featuring an Irish journalist - the first and in my opinion his best being DIVORCING JACK. I'm not sure how long he can continue with a character without a name? I'm sure this series will develop but what happens if he ever marries Alison, she can't be Mrs Mystery Man! There seemed to be a clue at Jimbo's cremation ceremony, when mystery man is called upon to say a few words, and is called Mr Chandler. But this is an obvious reference to Raymond, so we'll wait and see. The publisher is now marketing Colin Bateman as simply Bateman, no doubt a modern trend.
This is developing into an excellent series, so different from normal crime novels: unique, funny and well-written - we just need a name for him!
Geoff Jones, England