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Mystery Man (Mystery Man #1)

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,057 ratings  ·  108 reviews
A superbly gripping and blackly funny mystery by the king of the comic crime caper. He's the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, a mystery bookshop in Belfast. But when a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency's clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It's not as if there's any danger involved. It's an easy way to sell books...more
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published 2009 by Headline
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,688)
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John Martin
When you're lying in a hospital bed with a badly broken leg, I'm not sure you're supposed to laugh as much as I did reading this book. The nurses probably mistake your cackling as a nasty side-effect of the painkillers. But, no, Colin Bateman must take the credit for my laughter, not the endone. He really nails this black comedy. It's set in Belfast but he even brings my home city Canberra into it! He conjures up some very interesting characters too, including the main character who tells this w...more
Dang Benedict Cumberbatch recommended this for the Richard and Judy book club so then I had to read it. And it was good! Narrator is so flawed it is hilarious, the main mystery is gripping and the ending really surprised me
Henry Sheppard
I managed to read them out of sequence, but I finally made it back to the first in the Nameless Protagonist series. And it's probably the best of them.Recommended.
Oct 12, 2012 Claire rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Just what I needed for my book drought! Light-hearted, laugh out loud funny at times and a bit of a page turner. A comment on crime fiction rolled up in the mystery of the dancing Jew, this book was a really good read and I'm going to the library later to get the next one so I can find out what the cliff hanger leads to. Addictive!
Feb 19, 2013 Didi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
3.5 stars.

A hilarious and maddening book! (Don't base on how long it took me to read fr start to end cos I was juggling to many books at one go). At times, I got really embarrassed by the main character being naive/ dense.

And what's up with the last line of the book? Now I'm curious, maybe will pick up book 2 soon.
Jan 29, 2014 Cait rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cait by: Benedict Cumberbatch
Mystery Man was right up my alley, humor-wise. The narrator is an unnamed, paranoid, hypochondriac bookshop owner, looking to seduce (or possibly just be noticed by) the girl who works at the jewellery shop across the street, and he gets dragged into case-work when the PI next door disappears. The mysteries in the book escalate in importance as the story goes on (it all starts with a missing pair of leather trousers and ends with the Holocaust).

Because the narrator has so many problems (health-...more
The Mystery Man : The first book I’ve read that actually makes me laugh out loud…. But I am drinking a nice bottle of Chateau Du Trignon… The 2000 vintage naturally.
Jan 15, 2012 Rose marked it as to-read
Call me a skank or an obsessed fangirl, but i'm only reading this because Benedict Cumberbatch (oh dear!) has made a brilliant review of it.
Jan 03, 2012 Tyrone rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those that like their mysteries on the darker side of funny...
I've never read a book by Colin Bateman, but to my surprise I am familiar with his work. I saw a pretty crazy but funny crime thriller called Divorcing Jack a few years ago and loved it. I also watched a crime series called Murphy's Law with the wonderful James Nesbit and thoroughly enjoyed that. So when I picked up a book with an interesting cover at a Xmas bazaar and I connect the dots between that work and the author of the book I was holding, I knew I had my next read sorted out.

It turned ou...more
Sarah Goodwin
As part of my 'read all the books I can' binge, I picked this up, because I don't normally read crime fiction, or mystery fiction, and a humerous book seemed the best way to get into the genre.

This is, in my inexperienced opinion, a very good book. It's very funny, I liked the main character because, unlike many other 'socially maladgusted' characters, he didn't come off as a dick. I loved the first few chapters, the little mysteries and funny little call backs to things like the trousers and th...more
Rebecca H.
My mystery book group met this past Saturday to discuss Mystery Man by Colin Bateman. It was a good discussion, as always, about a book that struck me as strange. The book didn’t quite come together for me, but it was very funny, at least in places, and kind of a puzzle to think about. What made it so odd was the fact that it’s written in first person from the point of view of a man who is mentally disturbed, to one degree or another. It’s a little hard to tell just what’s going on with him beca...more
So there are people who are socially awkward and have trouble interacting with other people...and there are people who seem to have grown up in a cave without any human contact and therefore have no clue what is acceptable in human interaction and what isn't. The latter are more hillarious as book-characters...unless of course you happen to be socially awkward yourself and kind of fell like the author is taking the piss out of people like you because while you are somehwat unsure how to act in t...more
Jun 06, 2011 Sandra added it
- I liked the main character.
- It annoyed me sometimes that he was very dense. Or that his self-esteem is low.
- It has been a long time since I read a mystery book. Though this is not your conventional protagonist or your conventional mystery (not quite Agatha Christie solve-everything-by-logic structure, but definitely not the Patricia Cornwell forensic/police-y kind) - although perhaps this is why I like it. Also had a lot more characterisation than most plot-driven mystery novels.
(Are the two...more
This is about an unnamed protagonist who lives with his mother, has every ailment in the book, has a crush on the girl working in the jewellry shop across the road and owns his own crime fiction shop, "No Alibis" (which is a real crime bookshop in Belfast). When the private detective next door disappears, clients come to Mystery Man with their cases and with his love for crime fiction, he learns he has quite the knack for it. These cases are small and quite solvable but then when he finds the de...more
Harry McKinley
I should probably start by saying that despite not having lived in the Mother Land for a hefty proportion of my adult life, I'm Northern Irish and so for me there was something of a novel thrill in reading a book that tapped into the local culture so heavily. This book is filled with in-jokes, both social and geographical - " I crossed from the oasis of South Belfast to the Wild West." being a good example as, as anyone who knows the city can testify, this rather sums up the divide between...more
A superbly gripping and blackly funny mystery by the king of the comic crime caper.

He’s the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, a mystery bookshop in Belfast. But when a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency’s clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It’s not as if there’s any danger involved. It’s an easy way to sell books to his gullible customers and Alison, the beautiful girl in the jewellery shop across the road, will surely be impressed. Exce...more
Marc Nash
Bateman (too cool for a first name and I do wonder if he revels in the echoes with Brett Easton Ellis' character) is from Northern Ireland. A place he has his no name main character remark that traditionally has produced little crime fiction because of its much bigger and more political picture that engendered its own real life horrific acts of violence. With peace in our time, Northern Irish thriller writing may just feel empowered to emerge into the light. With Bateman in the vanguard, for thi...more
Really dull. It's a humourous mystery but it's neither funny enough to be humour nor mysterious enough to be mystery. The main character investigates a disappearance that may be linked to the holocaust survivors. The holocaust pretty much gets used as lurid horror fodder. It's use in this book is salacious, pandering and cheap. Nothing rings with emotional reality, not even a humourous emotional reality. The story rises and falls on its only real creation, the self-centred hypochondriac protagon...more
Bateman very rarely disappoints. The Mystery Man novels are all hilarious (in Bateman's own way) and I must have re-read them scores of times each. They're my go-to books when the pile has been depleted.

I loved this introduction to our Mystery Man and his supporting cast. Bateman brings his characters to gritty, cranky life so beautifully and despite his anonymity, our MM is just as vibrant and wonderful as any of his predecessors.

A cracking read.
Any Length
An enjoyable read. Narrated in the first person - a favorite of mine - the protagonist is a hypochondriac book seller come private eye with a good sense of humor and an eye on the "girl in the shop across the road". A funny book with a slightly "cliff hanger ending in regard to the girl. I am already reading book 2 in the series to find out what happened in the last scene of book 1 where we readers didn't get the picture. Now I know. It's worth getting into book 2.
Katie Grainger
This is one of the best books that I have read in a while. I got it partly due to the Richard and Judy sticker as most of the books I have read from the book club have been good, this one I just loved. The central character is literally the mystery man as we never discover his name but he is the owner of No Alibis a mystery book shop. The premise of the novel is simple, when the detective agency next door closes the customers start visiting No Alibis to get there cases solved. What follows is a...more
An acerbic hypochondriac and reluctant purveyor of crime fiction finds himself, compelled by the prospect of reward and glory, filling the shoes of a missing private detective. But what begins as a harmless hobby soon transcends into a dangerous murder investigation, with Nazi conspiracies a go-go (albeit suffused with the feminine wiles of self-appointed sidekick, Alison). This novel doubles up as a cynically hilarious parody and genuinely enthralling mystery. The ‘mystery man’ is fantastic to...more
Black comedy at its best. I often wander around the house listening to audiobooks on my headphones but they don't often make me snort with laughter as often as this one did! Looking forward to the next one in the series already.
Captain Jackie Harkness
This book is pure gold.

Seriously, this book has crimes, humour, a slightly quirky main character and an awkward love story.

It is a light, fluffy summer read or just a book to improve one's mood on a bad day.

I found this book just hilarious with all its little witty digs at crime writers and fiction, and possibly the most neurotic central character of all time.

Then I found out that No Alibis Bookshop really does exist and its owner says on their website: "Honestly Folks...I did not pay him any money to write this book...It is ENTIRELY a work of fiction...and any "character traits" displayed by the Man With No Name are his alone!"

Still must be good for business for what sounds like a brilliant books...more
Adele McVay
I picked this book up by accident in the library, strangely drawn to it by the photo of the pine tree air freshener. I'm so glad I took it home. I read it every chance I got and was laughing aloud at many of our anti hero's antics. I did feel that it read more like a collection of short stories in the beginning, that was a little off putting (why are we all so averse to short stories?), but I'm glad to say everything tied up nicely at the end. I was even left with a nice juicy cliff hanger to en...more
I picked up Bateman's second book, The Day of the Jack Russell, on a whim and loved it, so I went back for the first in the series. I really enjoy the fact that Bateman offers something different to other crime books by way of wit and a protagonist who isn't a beefed up 6 foot something hot guy. Having said that I must admit that I did get annoyed with his constant moaning by the end of the book.
I found that the mysteries themselves weren't twisty or complex but they were definitely entertainin...more
Seth Lynch
I liked a lot of this book. The main character is a neurotic, hypochondriac, and a racist. The last trait was generally well managed. I was drawn quickly into the world of No Alibis. I read the book quite quickly – which is a sign that I got into it. The story starts with two small episodes, one of which is used later. I also liked the idea of the reluctant private eye being drawn into the world by circumstance. When the going starts getting tough our Mystery Man tries to get out. It is his part...more
I couldn't figure this book out at first but I'm glad I stuck with it. Very funny, in an odd sort of way.
Apr 07, 2014 mampdx marked it as mysteries-i-want-to-read
Benedict Cumberbatch recommends it as "the perfect summer read." Good enough for me.
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Colin Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, DIVORCING JACK, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. He wrote the screenplays for the feature films of DIVORCING JACK, CROSSMAHEART and WILD ABOUT HARRY. He lives in Northern Ireland with his family.
More about Colin Bateman...
Divorcing Jack The Day of the Jack Russell I Predict A Riot Of Wee Sweetie Mice and Men Dr. Yes

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“If you dwell in the darkness, you can see in the dark and look into the light.
But in choosing the darkness, you know you are destined to walk alone.”
“He was the type of man women said they hated, they absolutely hated, they absolutely and categorically hated, and then they went to bed with him. I was the type of man women said they hated, and then they went home.” 3 likes
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