Author: (Colin) Bateman, 2009.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Satire. Black Comedy.
Other Details: Paperback. 448 pages
Subtitled: Spooks, Crooks & a Puppy Dog's Tale, this is the follow-up to Bateman's highly successful Mystery Man. In it the Small Shopkeeper with No Name, who has accidentally gained a reputation as a private investigator, is hired by a thuggish aspiring airline magnate to discover the identity of the vandals responsible for spraying obscene graffiti on his advertising hoarding. Mystery Man and his on-again/off-again girlfriend soon find themselves up to their eyebrows in various intrigues including murder, some MI5 agents, political corruption and the hunt for a missing Jack Russell. Can he solve the case and keep No Alibis, his crime fiction bookstore, afloat in the current economic climate?
I only realised recently the passing resemblance between this series and the wonderful Black Books. Both the Mystery Man and Bernard Black are misanthropic and dysfunctional booksellers who sell almost nothing and abuse their customers, frequently raging at the philistinism of the masses. I have to wonder if Bateman was a fan of Dylan Moran's creation when he came up with this idea.
This is a very funny and sharply observed satire on crime fiction and book selling. I enjoyed it immensely and immediately requested the most recent book in the series, Dr. Yes, from the library.