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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Confederacy of Eejits
There's plenty of humour to be found and a great deal of potential for further development (and even a rumoured TV series) in Bateman's creation of the Mystery Man. A small independent bookseller, the "hero" is the owner of Belfast's premiere crime specialist bookstore No Alibis ('Murder is our Business'), who gets mixed up in a series of misadventures when customers...
Published on 20 April 2009 by Keris Nine

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well before falling
Mystery man is an interesting book. It starts promisingly with a good set up but then falls into a bit of a pit as more detail about the main character (whose name we never learn) and his neurotic nature are revealed.

The character is the owner of a specialist crime bookshop in Belfast who takes on an investigative role when the private detective next door...
Published on 1 Sep 2010 by J. R. Johnson-Rollings


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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Confederacy of Eejits, 20 April 2009
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mystery Man (Hardcover)
There's plenty of humour to be found and a great deal of potential for further development (and even a rumoured TV series) in Bateman's creation of the Mystery Man. A small independent bookseller, the "hero" is the owner of Belfast's premiere crime specialist bookstore No Alibis ('Murder is our Business'), who gets mixed up in a series of misadventures when customers start turning up to the shop looking for him to solve small cases now that the Private Detective next door seems to have closed-up business. Stolen leather trousers and a missing person he can deal with - just about - but when he gets involved in the Case of the Dancing Jew, not to mention mixed up with the girl from the jewellery shop across the road, it takes more than a few Twix and Starbucks coffees to shake him out of his closeted existence.

A genuine bookshop in Belfast on Botanic Avenue, No Alibis, its owner and its customers don't get perhaps receive the most flattering of depictions, but this is Bateman's particularly self-deprecatory Belfast type of humour and it's very funny, so it is. A few old jokes/stories/urban legends that have done the rounds for years are dug up and dusted down, the neurotic lead character perhaps owes something to Ignatius J. Reilly from John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces (or they've at least shared a ward together at some point), but it's all just a means for Bateman to poke fun at local types - booksellers, publishers, ex-paramilitary taxi drivers, street thugs (Botanic Avenue Irregulars indeed) and local small businessmen - not in a mean spirited way, but in a lightly humorous and sometimes just downright hilarious manner.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well before falling, 1 Sep 2010
By 
J. R. Johnson-Rollings (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
Mystery man is an interesting book. It starts promisingly with a good set up but then falls into a bit of a pit as more detail about the main character (whose name we never learn) and his neurotic nature are revealed.

The character is the owner of a specialist crime bookshop in Belfast who takes on an investigative role when the private detective next door vanishes.

But then the character gradually reveals himself to be a repressed, almost autistic, child of neglecting parents with an absurd number of foibles that start off mild and believable but become more and more extreme as we go. Ultimately it is over the top and detracts from the focus of the novel as a crime story.

It's first person and it is well written. Some of the characters do come across as a bit stereotypical but that might just be because we are seeing through the eyes of the nameless lead. I just found that the pace of character building was slow and over-dominant.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A step up for Colin Bateman, 28 Oct 2009
By 
pikeman "last_man_standing" (an island in the eastern Atlantic) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
I have enjoyed Colin Bateman all the way from "Divorcing Jack" - I have even forgiven him the rubbish that was "Maid of the Mist" - but to an extent in the last 5/6 years he's got a bit formulaic.

This is a real break from that though - the hero is a brilliant character - weirdo verging(?) on autistic - but genuinly interesting and clever.

Like all Colin Bateman books the plot is secondary to the one-liners and the jokes - but that was also true for PG Woodhouse and so it ain't a criticism!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chip off the old Lawrence Block, 7 Jun 2010
By 
John Grimbaldeston (Preston, Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
This is an enjoyable, knowingly derivative mish-mash of a book: the fun is in finding the elements culled from the methods of other mystery writers, notably Lawrence Block, but also Alexander Macall Smith, Dashiell Hammett and I'm sure others that I missed, and in watching the characters develop. "Orpheus Rising" was a disappointing "Lovely Bones", this is a book of a writer still keen to experiment and almost, but not quite, at ease with his creation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-time reader says; I'll be reading more Bateman!, 17 Aug 2009
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
I had not heard of this author and bought 'Mystery Man' on impulse, partly because it had a positive review from Ian Rankin, one of my favourite crime authors.
I loved it! It's nothing like Rankin but it's equally as good in its gleeful, quirky, outrageous way.
If you like your heroes to be dysfunctional, this is the book for you.
The nameless narrator takes dysfunction to new and hilarious levels.
Be Warned: I hooted with laughter, even when reading the book in public, so be prepared for funny looks if you take it out of the house.
However, it mixes the chaos of the narrators' thoughts with genuine suspense, unease and plot twists. It also features a fabulous, feisty Sidekick for our reluctant detective.
I've recommended this book to all my friends, whether crime fans or not, and I recommend it to you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery Man, 30 April 2011
By 
Lori "book girl" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
Can a man who is a paranoiac, a hypochondriac and is pretty much scared of everything use his knowledge of detective fiction to solve real cases and in turn get the girl?

The narrator (who is never named) is in the same vein as Bernard Black of the TV series Black Books. He doesn't particularly like his customers (but then he doesn't really like anyone much), and is frequently either trying to fleece them or insulting their taste. The book contains a lot of humour based around crime/mystery fiction and small bookshops.

The narrator's thoughts and behaviours are rather erratic and contradictory with him not understanding just how different they can be from those around him. For example, when he spots some potential danger he immediately thinks how he can use the girl he loves and wants to marry as a shield. As the novel is in the first person you are never sure whether the narrator has any of the many illness he claims to have, what his family and mental health history really is nor how other people truly see him.

Some of the references to crime/mystery fiction or Northern Ireland went over my head. I had a lot of unanswered questions about the narrator and his history and although there are two sequels I'm not sure they ever will be due to the first person narration. However, I did really enjoy the book and found it an easy read. Would read more in the series or other books by Colin Batemen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't do it for me, 14 Sep 2010
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
I have read most of Colin Bateman's books, and found them engaging and funny with the Dan Starkey books and Cycle of Violence being my favourites.

I can also see that this book would be very funny depending on your sense of humour.

However, for me Mystery Man didn't do it at all, to the extent that I gave up on it two thirds of the way through, something I very rarely do.

The eponymous, unnamed hero (there's a contradiction) is the owner of a bookshop specialising in detective fiction. He whiles away his days dreaming about the beautiful Alison who works in the jewellery shop opposite. When the owner of the detective agency next door disappears, his customers start coming to the bookstore owner for help. Initially these are minor, insignificant cases, but eventually the narrator gets involved in what he calls the Case of the Musical Jews, which leads to shadows of the atrocities of world war 2 and surviving Nazis

The book is a stange mixture of Black Books and Sherlock Holmes, with a bit of Psycho thrown in for good measure.

Bateman does specialise in heroes at whose stupidity one wants to yell and scream, Dan Starkey being a case in point, but here he takes this to a new level.

Where Starkey is hip and dangerous, the primary humour here is the humour of the cringe, the Mystery Man is inept, socially inadequate and just plain embarassing. He is a seething mass of crassness, gaucheness, allergies and phobias. He is so appalling that I didn't find his relationship with the lovely Alison in the least credible.

So, if you don't like the kind of humour which makes you squirm with embarassment, then like me you will not enjoy this book. However, if that does float your boat, then you'll probably find this book hilarious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not classic Bateman by a long way, 27 Sep 2009
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
What's happened to Colin Bateman? - He's still putting out very funny and compelling tales but these latest efforts aren't a patch on what has come before.
Since 'Divorcing Jack', Bateman has been delivering a dark, cutting and very very funny image of Norn-Ireland mainstream and street politics, much appreciated and enjoyed by an exile like myself. There have always been counterparts to compare him to but lately he seems to have turned into them - 'Orpheus Rising' saw him not just be called our answer to Carl Hiaasen but take over the Florida space completely while 'Mystery Man' has him combining TV's Black Books and an attempt at the surreal world of Robert Rankin.
'Mystery Man' takes an age to establish the proper story and struggles to build any feeling other than irritation for the main character with a recurring gag that just begins to grate. Still it's a decent and funny yarn but loses the NI and Belfast observations which made his earlier (and recent - 'I Predict a Riot' was cracking) work simply so engaging.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No Bateman books?? You're missing out!, 17 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mystery Man (Kindle Edition)
This was the very first Bateman book I read. I was in Spain at the time and the raging heat drove me indoors to an air-conditioned room. It was there that I spotted this book on a shelf and not really being a 'reader', I picked it up expecting to be putting it down soon after.

BUT, I didn't put it down. Not until I'd read it from cover to cover. It was (to me) laugh out loud funny! That was 6 years ago. I'm just reading it again now and enjoying it every bit as much as the first time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I remember when he was Colin!, 15 Jun 2009
By 
SP Crowley "stevec" (North London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mystery Man (Paperback)
This is a very funny if utterly far fetched tale in which Bateman (when and why did he lose his christian name?) puts himself in the mind of an utterly dysfunctional, autistic, hypochondriac misfit and has an absolute whale of a time descibing his interractions with a chaotic world he can only comprehend when viewed through the internet, detective fiction and Starbucks coffee. This guy likes things the way they are!
Some hilarious moments, I don't think I will ever watch the FA Cup trophy presentation without laughing, leavened by some very sudden, dark revelations about the protagonist's past.
As for the final page, is it just me or is this one of the queasiest endings endings to a work of comedy fiction ever.
An accomplished novel on some levels, utter nonsense on others, Bateman is either unsure what he is trying to do or loves playing with our expectations. I think the latter.
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Mystery Man
Mystery Man by Colin Bateman (Paperback - 14 May 2009)
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