Saturday 19 August 2017

Review: Dr Yes by Colin Bateman

Headline, €15.99, Paperback

Colin Bateman -- or simply Bateman, as he's now known in a rather clever marketing wheeze -- is a funny guy. Yes, he writes crime novels (about 20 at this stage, as well as a few children's books and TV shows), but at heart, you feel, he's a comedian.

Books such as Divorcing Jack are pure entertainment, and that's meant as a most sincere compliment. They're great craic, with twisty plots, outrageous deeds and outlandish characters, driven by a fantastic energy, imagination and sense of fun.

He reminds me of other comic-crime masters like American Carl Hiaasen and Scot Christopher Brookmyre, mixing big laughs with social commentary, well-aimed satire and surprising moments of thoughtfulness; and like them, it's almost impossible to read Bateman and not enjoy yourself.

And his last few novels have seen the Belfast writer fully embrace his inner gagmeister with the Mystery Man series. Here the comic is far more important than the criminal, as the hangdog, unimposing hero, the Small Shopkeeper with No Name (And No Customers), investigates the disappearance of -- yes -- a crime writer.

It's all very self-referential and playful, laughing at itself even as it makes the reader chuckle. Dr Yes pokes good-natured fun at crime writing, at crime itself, at modern culture, at all the clichés of the detective yarn . . . at anything that pops into Bateman's head.

It's also extremely silly -- the title alone is so awful it's brilliant -- which is exactly the way you'd want it.

I won't bother outlining the plot because it's ridiculous, and anyway the story is only a framework for Bateman to hang a deluge of jokes, some fabulous, some terrible, which you suspect is done deliberately.

He might have lost the first name but Bateman has lost none of his talent for comical mayhem. Ulster says Yes!

Irish Independent

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