The Prisoner of Brenda is the fourth book in Colin Bateman’s Mystery Man series; following the adventures of Belfast’s leading purveyor of crime fiction who also happens to be the city’s greatest crime solver. The fact that he is completely neurotic, and possibly psychotic, makes him a staple of the genre.
Like most of Bateman’s books, especially the Mystery Man series, it is funny. Not a mild chuckle to yourself funny, it’s laugh out loud and embarrass yourself on the train funny. He has managed to create a main character that is completely unbelievable yet completely grounded by supporting characters around him (with the exception of his mother). Like the rest of the Mystery Man books it manages to poke fun at the crime genre while still being a crime novel in itself.
The plot is wonderfully convoluted, it is tough to summarise without giving too much. Mystery Man (there are a few potential clues to his name this time) is drawn into another seemingly unsolvable case due to his one time residence in a mental institution. That is all I can say without getting into a full breakdown of the plot. It is told in the first person, you are subject to the inner workings of Mystery Man’s mind. It goes without saying that he is not the most reliable narrator and that detecting the truth from his skewed version of events is half the fun of the book. If you are looking for a book or a series that will keep you both guessing and laughing, this is what you are looking for.