Jim's Books

Empire State

Colin Bateman

Empire State
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Buy book: UK

ISBN: 9780006498025


It's bad enough having a name like Nathan Jones - unless you're a Supremes fan, which Nathan isn't - but when his girlfriend leaves him (for a drag queen) and he gets mugged, then handcuffed to a bed and cut up in a misunderstanding with an S&M hooker, it looks as if things can't get any worse for this exile in the Big Apple. But they can.

Reviewed on 29th January 2012

This is the second of Bateman's novels which I have read, and I must confess I feel pretty much the same way as I did about the first. While it's an interesting set-up and the characters occasionally show promise, I just wasn't able to connect with the novel and found I had to force myself to keep going through the second half.

Nathan Jones is a Northern Irish immigrant into the USA, and has a bit of a temper problem. When his girlfriend leaves him, he's left with just his security guard job at the Empire State Building, and a whole range of implausible coincidences that bundle on top of him.

I'm quite surprised by how I feel about the book, because Bateman's work is in many ways similar to that of Christopher Brookmyre, whose novels (Scottish instead of Northern Irish) are also of the slightly black-comic crime genre, but Bateman's plots and characters just don't seem to fit together quite so well.

In this book, the plot didn't seem to connect particularly well - there was too much going on, particularly some which was just complete distraction, and one element in particular cropped up very suddenly with no warning to provide a quick deus ex machina and extend the story by a few extra chapters. The humour was quite faintly sketched in over what is really quite a tragic tale, and the variety of sexual acts surprisingly frequent.

Overall, I'm afraid it's not a book I can recommend, which is a shame because it was recommended to me. I'll stick to Brookmyre in the future and try to resist the allure of some of Bateman's other tempting titles.

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