The PI in Mystery Man could be me, full of phobias and weird compulsions. A coward, with too much interest in memorising pointless number sequences. It’s almost as if Colin Bateman had met me. Come to think of it, he has. Only long enough for me to say ‘Hello, I’m the bookwitch. And I haven’t read any of your books. Can I take a photo of you?’. Wonder if my social skills inspired him?
These days I generally come across Colin at Crime Always Pays, where we can both leave rude comments on whatever Declan Burke has blogged about. And let me make it clear that I will continue to talk about him as Colin. I know he only has Bateman on his books, but I never attended a private boys’ school, and I probably never will. So Colin it is.
Mystery Man runs the No Alibis crime bookshop in Belfast. No, he doesn’t. Not in real life. At least I don’t think so. The bookshop is real, but hopefully run by someone other than this sorry fiasco of an OCD hypochondriac. When the shop’s next door neighbour, the private eye Malcolm Carlyle, suddenly disappears, his customers come to Mystery Man with their mysteries. It’s leather trousers and graffiti and sticky-out ears and stuff like that, and Mystery Man enjoys solving these puzzles.
The Case of the Dancing Jews proves a little more interesting. A little more dangerous. He gets himself a sidekick. He gets a love life. His life is in danger. Corpses are everywhere, with and without air fresheners. It’s all to do with Auschwitz, and Mystery Man gets paranoid about Germans.
This is a very funny book, and I suspect the Resident IT Consultant would not like it at all. But I did. I still wonder what they put in the water over in Ireland. They are funnier, and weirder, but I don’t mind. Colin is already writing the sequel, and it was only as I began writing this that I realised I don’t actually know the name of Mystery Man. Lots of aliases in No Alibis. Clever. The ending is clever too, but I won’t tell.
The cover is exactly to the witch’s taste. Simple. And purple. They must have had me in mind after all.