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Book 90: The Prisoner of Brenda by Bateman

Book 90: The Prisoner of Brenda (Mystery Man #4).
Author: (Colin) Bateman, 2012.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Satire. Black Comedy.
Other Details: Paperback. 408 pages.

When notorious gangster ‘Fat Sam’ Mahood is murdered, the chief suspect is arrested nearby. But he seems to have suffered a breakdown. Incarcerated in a mental institution, he’s known only as the Man in the White Suit. The suspect remains an enigma until Nurse Brenda calls on Mystery Man, former patient and owner of No Alibis, Belfast’s finest mystery bookshop, to bring his powers of investigation to bear… However, before our hero can even begin, the Man in the White Suit is arrested for the murder of a fellow patient. But is he a double murderer or a helpless scapegoat? Intrigue, conspiracy, and ancient Latin curses all combine to give the Small Bookseller with No Name his most difficult case to date. - synopsis from author's website.

Another in this quirky series in which the crime/mystery genre as well as crime writers and writing are sent up with Bateman's wry, dark humour. He loves taking swipes at the Scandinavian crime writers, James Patterson, and novels in which the mystery is solved by a cat. Whenever Brendan Coyle appears, a pretentious writer of literary novels who dabbles in crime fiction under a pen-name, I am certain he is having a dig at Irish novelist John Banville, who writes crime fiction as Benjamin Black.

I would stress that the series should be read in order, this is not a novel that works as a stand alone as Bateman's running jokes, such as the Small Bookseller with No Name's relationship with his on-off girlfriend Alison and his Mother along with his various health issues and the like could leave a new readers puzzled or frustrated.

I have to admit the closing chapter left me wondering what Bateman was up to though he's done this before with the series and then a year or so later another Mystery Man book appears. Still I have since found an interview with him on The Belfast Times website in which he said this was to be the last book in the series. So that's that then. Sad but preferable to a great series becoming stale. Bateman has penned plenty of other novels and I look forward to reading more of his work in due course.

Overall, strange and lots of fun. I shall miss Mystery Man.
Tags: crime fiction, murder mystery, satire
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