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Divorcing Jack

(Dan Starkey #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,800 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Divorcing Jack is a 1998 satirical black comedy. The plot is set around the Northern Irish reporter Dan Starkey who gets entangled into a web of political intrigue and Irish sectarian violence, at the same time as Northern Ireland is set to elect a new Prime Minister.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 11th 1996 by Arcade Publishing (first published January 1st 1995)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,800 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014

More black comedy than true Irish noir, Divorcing Jack is my first foray into Colin Bateman. Based on first impressions I believe I will read more of his books, even if this one did not deliver on all fronts. I am already familiar with several flavors of noir : classic 1940's West Coast, East Coast, Florida camp, Scandinavian bleak, Scottish rumpus (Brookmyre). This here is an attempt to branch out into Irish, with London calling next (Ken Bruen?). And as I like to do with new authors, I have c
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A solid thriller without being ground breaking. Belfast reporter Dan Starkey gets in over his head as a drunken kiss escalates into adultery. Then his new girl is shot dead and Dan is the prime suspect.

This is bad enough, but why are the UDF trying to kill him?

Picked up pace towards the end, and it had some great moments of black humour. The part time nun is genius. There is enough there for me to try another book by Bateman - I just think that Brookmyre does this better.
Okay, quick synopsis. Dan Starkey is an Irish journalist who likes his drink. One day, he meets a student called Margaret and takes her back to his house when a party is in swing. There, he kisses her, gets thrown out of the house. Within 24 hours, Margaret is found murdered by Starkey with her last words being "Divorce...Jack." He goes on the run, trying to find who murdered Margaret and why? And most importantly, who is Jack and why is he divorced?

This is a funny book. Seriously funny. Bateman
Susan Johnson
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A friend gave this to me for Christmas. I had never heard of Colin Bateman before but I am a fan now. I started laughing from the first page and laughed most of the way through. The story takes place during The Troubles when a politician is running to be the peace candidate. Everyone is involved from the police, the IRA and the UVF and all of them are out to get Dan Starkey, freelance writer for the Belfast papers. I don't want to give it away but it has a wonderful ending, in an awful kind of ...more
Shirley Revill
Really enjoyed listening to this book. Will look for more from this author.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Clunky dialog and way too many coincidences that force the plot forward hamper this mystery novel.
It does have an incredible cover, though.
Avid Reader
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is how to write a crime novel. Set your book somewhere vivid. Create a flawed protagonist who has enough virtues that the reader cares. Have interesting times happen to your hero, and lay the clues to the mystery so your reader always wants to read just one more chapter.

Bateman works this formula wonderfully. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a couple of days in Belfast with a disreputable journalist.

If anyone out there's writing Bateman fan-fic I'd be equally happy to spend more time with the
Mar 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I generally liked the book and no small part of that comes from recognizing the small bars and larger political landscape of Belfast from the mid 90s. The larger plot seems a bit ridiculous truth be told, but in Bateman's debut novel you see him finding his brilliant beta male voice infused alternately with sarcasm and feebleness that manifests itself so excellently in "Mystery Man." The scene with the nun is particularly hilarious. I plan on reading all of Bateman's works so it was good to go b ...more
Henry Sheppard
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish, crime, novels
I came to this via the movie version. And I'd have to say, this is one of the few times where the movie is better than the book. The ending, in particular, felt labored.

Still and all, I agree with Rachel Griffith, who was willing to be in the movie--without even knowing what role they were offering her--on the strength of having read the book during a trans-Atlantic flight. it's a fine read.
Ana Marija Šir
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read, smart and hilarious. Something you're going to want to own and read every once in a while. For some reason, I always imagined Colin Bateman as a John Cleese meets Oscar Wilde kind of figure, which says enough about my admiration for the author.
Michael Bolan
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humour
Having lived in Prague and tried to cope with the language, Divorcing Jack struck a chord with me.
David Campton
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Funny and fast paced. Film version was a pale shadown of the book
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery, noir, irish
fast-paced, easy-reading neo-noir mystery/thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brin Murray
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
​Divorcing Jack By Colin Bateman

I’d heard good things about Colin Bateman, and decided to start with his first, a 1998 thriller set during the troubles in Northern Ireland.
Bateman’s wit carries this: as thrillers go, Divorcing Jack is laugh-out-loud funny – in a dark and violent way. The main protagonist, Dan Starkey, is a decidedly beta male (or maybe even omega of there is such a thing). He’s not strong, brave, fair, loyal, tough, or honest. He betrays his wife with little remorse. He spends a
May 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-comedy
Colin Bateman's first published book (and winner of the Betty Trask Prize) and first in the Dan Starkey series. Subtitled Vodka, Violence & A Nun With A Gun, this dark comedy takes the young Belfast journalist from a sexual encounter into a never-ending conspiracy of violence, political intrigue and murder as he gets involved with ex-IRA turned gangsters, the Belfast political class and the NI secret services. A good read, not that funny for a dark comedy, but a fresh take on the Troubles withou ...more
Jennifer S. Alderson
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I love the Mystery Man series so was expecting greatness when I picked this one up. Unfortunately, this book didn't work for me. The main character was someone I hated and by the end I was actually hoping things would go wrong for him. Oh well.
Derek Bridge
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked Bateman, then went off him. Needing distraction, I re-read this, his first. And I could see why I liked him. It's a good yarn, and amusing, even if the eponymous mishearing is the weakest part of the plot.
Kev Bickerdike
This wasn't terrible, and I enjoyed much of it.
However, I almost abandoned it immediately, because Starkey's Dad jokes were horrendously annoying. If the plot had been less engaging, I would have binned it based on that one gripe.
Cecile Christensen
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining, but had lots of words and setups that were unintelligible. The plot concerned The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
gangsters, thugs, Irish politics, alcohol problems, adultery, a fun, fun book.
Francis Pellow
Dan Starkey is a fantastic character and i look forward to reading more in the series. I think this story is a little over long and drags a bit in the middle section but certainly has it's charms.
Dane Divine
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Fuck me, this was fucking shit!
Jack Bates
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this when it first came out - and I remember thinking it doesn't quite live up to the cover, which is rather excellent.
Nicholas Whyte
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it

I picked this up at a Brussels literary event last year, at which Bateman himself spoke and autographed a couple of his works for me. I had previously read a couple of his thrillers set in Belfast, usually involving struggling journalists who get into political and criminal difficulties, though I don't think I had looked at any of them this century. Divorcing Jack is more political, but it is a slightly different politics to our time line, set in an alte
With plenty of Bateman and Dan Starkey under my belt, it was high time I read their first outing. At this point in my experience with his work, it was interesting to read a story set in The Troubles, rather than post-Troubles... and to catch a brief glimpse of the Starkey marriage pre-troubles with a small 't'. The latter, combined with the events of the novel, really helps with the later books.

The irreverent approach to very black topics is all there, and the plot rattled along. But what happen
Simon Taylor
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in pre-Good Friday Northern Ireland, Divorcing Jack is a darkly comic crime adventure starring newspaper columnist Dan Starkey. When he kisses a girl at a house party, he's given 24 hours to move out by his wife. Soon, the girl is dead and her last words, "Divorce Jack", are all Starkey has to exonerate himself from the outlaws and lawmen who are after him.

The setting is critical to the story and provides a depth to everything and everyone. Nobody can live amid the Troubles unblemished. Eve
Zoe Carney
An enjoyable romp of a thriller, set in and around Belfast, with some lovely comic touches. Not massively original, but a good, entertaining take on an old standard with some very nice social commentary thrown in for good measure. Violent without being especially gritty - think Quentin Tarantino with a Northern Irish accent and you've pretty much got it. If you bought this in an airport or train station to read while travelling, you wouldn't be disappointed - but I also doubt you'd remember it o ...more
John Lee
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I dont know where I found this one. Certainly not my usual source - the wife, although I think this could be right up her street. It reminded me of the 'Good Thief's Guide to .........' books of Chris Ewan.

I have mixed feelings about this one. Regular readers of my reviews will know that I do not appreciate gratuitous violence but here it is treated almost in a cartoon fashion. The violence here is treated in a light hearted way but, perhaps, that was the way of it in those incomprehensible time
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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.

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Dan Starkey (10 books)
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  • Shooting Sean
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