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The Prisoner of Brenda

(Mystery Man #4)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  509 ratings  ·  41 reviews
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 hi ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 25th 2012 by Headline
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  509 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Shirley Revill
I listened to the audiobook version of this book and I really enjoyed listening.
Really made me smile. I will look for more from this author.
Ruby Barnes
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
When you're down and weary, and you need a hand to hold ... just reach out for a Bateman book. The prisoner of Brenda will make your (face) cheeks ache from smiling and your ribs hurt from the belly laughs. Best read alone to avoid the 'just listen to this bit, just listen to this other bit' phenomena. What I took from this story is that electro-convulsive therapy is an effective, albeit temporary, treatment for hypochondria. I'm not sure if I preferred our Mystery Man with or without his hang-u ...more
Henry Sheppard
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, crime, irish
This is another with the Nameless Protagonist. The Pregnant Girlfriend is now a mother. Other things are as loopy as ever. The NP ends up in the loony bin, a mixture of mental breakdown and an ambitious attempt to reach an isolated mute patient who might hold a useful clue in a series of murders. The NP springs the mute psych patient from custody, and a series of increasingly difficult-to-believe events follow, culminating in another Agatha Christie-like unmasking of the murderer(s) at a funeral ...more
Nick Davies
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Colin Bateman's novels can be a bit over-silly at times, but here (as with one or two others of his I have enjoyed) he manages something where the humour and characters are better balanced, something akin to Chris Brookmyre at his lightest, something witty and Irish and compelling and unusual.

This forms part of the 'Mystery Man' series, the first of which I enjoyed previously. Yes, the strange protagonist can feel a little cartoonish at times, and there is a need to suspend critical thought and
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery, readathon
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. ...more
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the 4th book about an unnamed man who runs a crime bookshop in Belfast, and works as a PI because he enjoys solving puzzles. He has a surprising number of illnesses, and has, in the past, spent time in the local asylum. Nurse Brenda walks into his shop one day and calls in a favour - she has a patient who won't speak, nobody knows his name, and he's accused of murder. She wants the Mystery Man to get himself admitted to the asylum for 24 hours to find out who the Man in the White Suit is ...more
Sarah Goodwin
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
My least favourite of the series so far. This installment saw the return of the confused and drawn out revelation at the end. Very similar to book two. The process of solving the case was also very slow and much of it seemed to occur in exposition at the end.

I also felt that the mystery man's usual uneven character was wearing thin in this book - and frankly the ending just didn't make much sense to me. It also didn't answer the question of what was up with Alison and the pictures.

There was als
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, humour, noir
This was a fun read, the fourth in the Mystery Man Series.
The “Mystery Man” is a deeply damaged, incredibly superior hypochondriac who owns the No Alibis bookstore in Belfast.
There is a murder in a gym and the murderer is apparently captured, but appears to be totally out of it, which means he ends up in an insane asylum.
The “Mystery Man” is asked to go undercover as an inmate in an asylum that he used to be incarcerated in many years before--the nurse there, Brenda, has a compelling way with h
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book. Needs to be read in order with the other Mystery Man novels as I don't think it makes sense stand alone. There is a section in the middle which is slightly surreal but in keeping with the lead character and eventually the plot moves on. The ending of the mystery is great lots of humour and a good conclusion to the book. The epilogue is then very bizarre. I'm not sure if this is meant to be the end of the series.
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I am a committed fan of Colin Bateman and especially love the Mystery Man series. This book is the fourth in that series and although there were some hugely funny moments/lines and the main characters are really developing, I feel this lost its way slightly in some parts. The epilogue was bizarre....I'm not sure I really understood what was going on! :-/ An enjoyable enough read but not really comparable to the others in the series to be honest.
Abbie Ennis
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Bateman you have done it again. This new installment in the mystery man series has truly made up for the long wait and has satisifed all my expectations for this novel and has left me wanting more.

Mystery man taken off medication and treated for his medical issues and he is still insane. I love it and cannot wait for the next one. Hopefully it will not be to long till the next one. =]
Samuel Tyler
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
By the time of ‘The Prisoner of Brenda’, Colin Bateman’s Mystery Man creation has been around for a few books. The enigmatic book store owner is a great creation; sarcastic, neurotic and quite likely psychotic. In his previous adventures he has been threatened plenty of times, but has always managed a jammy escape; usually with the aid of his girlfriend or lacklustre helper. However, ‘Brenda’ puts him up against his most dangerous foe yet, himself. We learn more in the pages of this book about M ...more
Brian Gowthorpe
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
As sardonic as ever, the Bookseller With No Name tackles his most dangerous and involved case yet, culminating in a classic Christieesque dénouement with Power Point. The Irishness is pretty important but the jokes more so, almost achieving a Simpsons density of gags, many of them cheap laughs that he chucks out with aplomb. As you laugh along, it is easy to miss the care that has gone into the plot.
Daniel Henshaw
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely hilarious. Laughed out loud many times throughout. Bateman has cemented his place as my favourite comedic author.
Jo Sidaway
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting read but jumped around a bit and could be quite difficult to follow at times.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved the Mystery Man series. I liked the fact he was off all his meds and he felt fine.
Martin Willoughby
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The ending has one hell of a kick.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Another mystery man story that u can read stand alone or in order. I like Batemans witty writing style and the small character ensemble.
Erin Britton
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Bookseller With No Name rides again [but never above 29 miles per hour] in The Prisoner of Brenda and it’s just as well there’s murder afoot since the book business is well and truly in the doldrums. As the Mystery Man himself comments, “The book business is in chassis and our footfall is down thirty-six percent year on year. For Godsake, even James Patterson is virtually on the breadline! He only wrote thirty-six novels last year!” Genius.

Fortunately though, Mystery Man is distracted from t
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another very enjoyable outing for the Mystery Man, the owner of No Alibis, the finest crime fiction bookstore in the whole of Belfast (according to the Mystery Man himself). Those of you who have read previous Mystery Man (MM) books will need no introduction - for the rest of you, the narrator of the story is a bookshop owner and part-time detective who takes on cases brought to him by people who have nowhere else to go (or in some instances, cases that intrigue our MM). Given that he is borderl ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was yet another brilliant installment in the Mystery Man series. I feel that the characters are really developing now, and I found that during this book I cared more about the personal stories of each of the characters than the over-arching murder plot. The relationships and banter never fail to amuse me.

Usually I find the lead character funny, but overall a bit too whiny and repetative. I know that this is his point but after 300+ pages of it, it does get a bit too much. This novel however
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another great addition to the Mystery Man series. I enjoyed the twist of the psychiatric home and how even a normal person can be subjected to one and feel as though they are a prisoner. All it takes is the right people to say the wrong thing and you're in your own hellish Cuckoo's Nest. Not that the Mystery Man is by any means normal. But how many of us really are in the end? (Especially if you enjoy Colin Bateman's comedy -- something must be wrong with you. In a good way, of course...)

Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2014
It was interesting to come to this immediately after two other Bateman offerings, one a Dan Starkey, the other standalone. It was good to be back with the Belfast bookseller-cum-private detective whose many personal flaws and foibles are rather different from those generally doled out by crime writers to their investigators.

The nameless owner of No Alibis is still living with his disturbing mother but Alison and his baby son are not part of the household. Still employing the hapless Jeff, still
I've never read a Colin Bateman and selected this from our local library based entirely on the cover. I really liked the comedic style of writing but I'll admit some of the plot flew over my head at times and I'm not sure if this is simply because I was preoccupied with other things when I was reading it or whether it was because there weren't sufficient clues in the book to help me get involved in solving the mystery. Or maybe I'm a bit thick. Who knows? Anyway, I liked it sufficiently to plan ...more
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best Bateman Yet

I've read a couple of Bateman's books now, both stand alone and series, and this is by far the best. What an amazing conclusion to an excellent quadrilogy of books in the Mystery Man series. I didn't have much hope for this after reading the rather bland Dr Yes but I couldn't put this down. It has a humour about it which reminds me of the first novel in the series, Mystery Man, the novel which attracted me so much to Bateman's writing. A must read for any fan.
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-humour
I love most of Bateman's books but the "Mystery Man" series tops my list of favourites. The humour is black as pitch and absolutely hilarious. I especially love the small bookseller digs at bestselling authors and book megastores but his ideas on love and life are also worth the price of admission. Hope this is just another gem in a long series.
Mike Worth
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally the Mystery Man books begin to make done sense. Am liking the 'rehabbed' main character more than the previous books. Makes things more believable and allows us more to focus on the story, rather than the distracting foibles!
Lana Kamennof-sine
Jul 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Early days yet as only on p102 but love the dark humour, the assorted "unique" characters, the sly allusions to a plethora of authors, books, triva etc. Glad I saw Ian Rankin's recommendation on back cover that triggered the pick up.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Loved this, read it in 3 evenings, laughed out loud a LOT. Twisty, turny, silly plot. Dark humour aplenty.
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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.

Other books in the series

Mystery Man (4 books)
  • Mystery Man (Mystery Man #1)
  • The Day of the Jack Russell
  • Dr. Yes

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