When Belfast private detective Dan Starkey is approached by Moira Doherty about her missing son Billy, he is none too pleased. Sure, he needs the money that a new case will bring in, but this one means hiking all the way out to Derry. He drops the kindly old woman back at the bus station with every intention of turning the case down, but when the concerned mother turns out to have been a political firebrand and professional anarchist from back in the day, the case gets more interesting for him. Against his better judgement, he heads out to Derry. Moira, however, is nowhere to be found and the city is in upheaval after a body has been found on the city’s Peace Bridge. Starkey quickly finds himself in a seedy underworld of drugs, porn and a host of unpleasant characters intent on creating a new generation of mayhem in Northern Ireland.
The Dead Pass is the tenth in a series of novels about Dan Starkey from author and screenwriter Colin Bateman (perhaps best known for the TV series Murphy’s Law). Having never read any of the series before, I found this a very difficult novel to get into; clearly there was a lot of background material that I had missed and which the author wasn’t going to recap all that much for new readers. It basically meant that significant chunks of the book made very little sense to me, unfortunately. I opted to skip such passages and instead head to the meat of the plot instead.
What of the story? Certainly Bateman is an author with a significant following and many glowing reviews, including praise from none other than Ian Rankin stamped across the cover of this book. It certainly gets ticks from me for sense of place and pacing of the plot, but other than that this was very much not to my tastes. Heavy on swearing (which doesn’t bother me in moderation, but was exasperatingly common in this book) and full of drunken train of thought descriptions, I found this novel to be far from enjoyable. I imagine that if you are a fan of Bateman’s you will probably enjoy it, but new reader’s way well have more success starting at the beginning of the series.
The Dead Pass by Colin Bateman
Published by Headline, September 2014
With thanks to Headline for providing this review copy.
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