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Colin Bateman's name may not be immediately recognisable to everyone, but if you're a fan of British TV, you've probably seen his work. In addition to creating the series Murphy's Law (starring James Nesbitt), he's written episodes of popular shows like Doc Martin and Rebus.
Along the way, he's also written a number of novels and other fictional works – including the Mystery Man novels.
All of Colin Bateman's Mystery Man Books in Order
The Mystery Man series follows a nameless, neurotic hypochondriac who lives with his mother and owns a mystery-themed bookshop called No Alibis in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
His life is pretty dull until the man who owns the detective agency next door disappears. Over time, his customers begin coming next door to get help or find out about the whereabouts of the detective.
At first, he takes on simple cases – things like missing leather trousers or childish graffiti. Unfortunately for this timid man, it doesn't take long before he finds himself up to his neck in murder.
In terms of tone, these books are probably best described as “edgy cozy”. They're fairly tame compared to much of the gritty crime fiction that's out there, and they do feature an amateur sleuth and quite a bit of humour. Unlike many cozies, however, there's a fair bit of mature language and content. The setting (the Northern Irish city of Belfast) is also a bit unusual for a cozy, since most of those are set in small towns and villages.
Mystery Man Book 1 | Mystery Man
Mystery Man opens with our hero struggling to run a bookshop that doesn't get the kind of foot traffic it probably needs to stay operational. Everything is pretty normal until the detective next door goes missing – and his customers come calling, still very much in need of help.
In his first outing as sleuth, the Mystery Man sets out to tackle only those cases which are simple and seemingly safe. He views them as fun puzzles that could help supplement his income, but it's not long before everything gets much more complicated and dangerous.
Mystery Man Book 2 | The Day of the Jack Russell
After being hired to investigate graffiti on a businessman's billboards, our man of mystery finds himself under investigation for the murder of the culprits. The whole thing spirals rather quickly, and soon MI5 is involved…and everyone is looking for a missing Jack Russell.
Mystery Man Book 3 | Dr. Yes
When the wife of an obscure write novelist goes missing after entering the exclusive clinic of a plastic surgeon, our Mystery Man is convinced to look into the case. Business is slow, the responsibilities of fatherhood are looming, and he needs money.
The case that follows will find him immersed in murder and makeup as he pursues a gruesome serial killer.
Mystery Man Book 4 | The Prisoner of Brenda
When a notorious local gangster is murdered, the chief suspect is arrested and quickly incarcerated in a psychiatric facility. He seems to have had some kind of complete breakdown. A puzzle to everyone, known only as “The Man in the White Suit”, nurse Brenda seeks out Mystery Man's help in unraveling the mystery.
Will There Be More Mystery Man Novels?
It's hard to say, but we wouldn't be surprised if we'd seen the last of this series. The books were originally released between 2009 and 2012, and Bateman has long since moved on to other projects.
All the same, we're pleased to say that at time of writing, Bateman is alive and well and still writing – so one can never say never.