Top critical review
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Not Mystery Man's finest hour.
on 7 January 2013
I'm been an avid reader of all of Colin Bateman's books for some years now and he's still one of those authors whose books I order as soon as they are released. I should really get myself on some mailing list so I know sooner although it's a nice surprise when I trawl through Amazon and see there's something new by him out. It always cheers me to find out.
Mystery Man is one of those characters who often defy belief. He's the kind of person you'd probably steer clear of at the best of times and like those guys in High Fidelity, real ale devotees and ski instructors he looks down on anyone who's not up to his level which isn't many. It's never really made clear how he remains in the murder book industry being so nasty to his customers. It's also hard to decide why his long suffering girlfriend (tm) remains with him. I'd have kicked him into touch years ago. However on he goes with girlfriend, new born son (he's pretty sure it's his but 100% positive), trusty side kick/lacky and mad mother and tries to solve another case.
Much like the other Mystery Man novels you'd be wise to suspend your belief at quite how he goes around solving these mysteries. Like Bateman's other novels the art is in the writing. The banter between characters fizzes by and there's enough one liners to have you chortling to yourself on the train into work. Certainly Bateman's ability to write hasn't diminished and there's enough cultural references to keep you going. Sometimes I'd like the narrator not to explain why he's called himself after the author of the first ever hard boiled detective novel. Let the reader find out...
However this is probably the first of the books I've come away from not feeling entirely satisfied. There are too many plot holes (even more than normal) in the case of the murder of Fat Sam and the discovery of the identity of the piano playing man in white.
I won't go into spoilers and mentioning Fat Sam and the Man in White certainly doesn't do that. There are other areas I'd have liked to have been better explained such as the odd contents of one of the rooms in his house.
Like many other first person narrators through the history of literature you have to take it at the word of the Mystery Man himself about what is true and what is made up and put forward by someone who takes enough medication to floor a horse. It could all be false. He could have made the whole thing up!
If it's worth reading it's worth reading to see what happens next. I won't say anything more....