Archive for the 'reviews (books)' Category

Review: I Predict A Riot by Bateman

February 13, 2008

I have a horrible inability to put down a book I’m more than two-thirds of the way through. When it’s a slim P.G. Wodehouse, that’s not a particular problem. When it’s a 600-page monster like Harry Potter or Bateman’s I Predict A Riot, it does tend to lead to me being up all night reading, unable to sleep no matter how exhausted I am.

I Predict A Riot is great fun, no question. You might think of it as Rebus-lite, if you were so inclined: one of the central characters, “Marsh” Mallow is frequently a less dark, more Belfasty detective and likes his music and whisky (apparently on a more superficial level than Rebus).

It’s an odd book. The copy on the cover is all about mutilated corpses and an untouchable bad guy¬† yet you get thirty chapters in and it’s still a chuckly love story with Mallow as a minor character, also looking for love more than for a dangerous criminal… and yet you read on.

It’s hard not to like the main characters – Mallow and the ridiculous couple, Margaret and Walter, no matter how foolish and irrational they act. In fact, it’s difficult to hate anyone in the story: the bad guys are largely caricatures, and even the good guys are little more than caricatures with added foibles.

Despite the lack of characterisation, it’s a good read. The plot is admirably convoluted and, in places, utterly daft; in others, it’s so daft as to be plausible – rioting for the sake of rioting, a paramilitary with a twin brother who’s a priest (where on earth could that storyline go?), a mysterious office in the Department of Education… and it all gets neatly wrapped up, which is always a bonus.

Bateman doesn’t have quite the incisiveness of, say, Hiaasen or Brookmyre, or the darkness of Rankin, but he does pull off something¬† worth reading.