I PREDICT A RIOT is a big brick of a book from the Northern Irish crime fiction aficionado now going by the name of Bateman. As a fan of his since DIVORCING JACK, I had high hopes for this book. As ever, the Bangor man failed to disappoint me. I cracked my first smile at the dedication to his Christian name, “… gone but not forgotten.” Couple this with the intriguing tagline, ‘Murder, extortion & carrot cake’, and the reader already knows what they’re in for. Classic Bateman violence and humour.
As always, his flawed characters leave you cringing as they stumble towards inevitable disaster, and his cleverly constructed plot is revealed with a lightning fast pace that keeps you turning the pages. And as always, I laughed out loud. A lot. Seriously, people at work were staring at me as I giggled through my lunch break for a week.
The book started life as a serialisation in a Belfast newspaper, The News Letter. Each chapter is an instalment from the paper, and so each one is very short. I have no complaints about this. It made it an incredibly easy read. Also, as a result of its original venue, all the f**king swearing has been ****ed out. If you read Mr Bateman’s blog, you’ll see a mini rant about this. Apparently a lot of folk found his “censorship” rather annoying. I disagree. I thought it made some of the swearing funnier in places.
However, another hangover from its genesis is the rather annoying amount of recaps within the chapters. I can understand the need to drop the odd sentence of back-story when the reader has to wait days for the next instalment, but in a book as fast-paced as this it’s completely unnecessary. I reckon this was the result of lazy editing as opposed to overkill from the writer.
All in all, I PREDICT A RIOT rocks harder than the Kaiser Chiefs (sorry, too easy to resist). With a strong cast of characters and a wry look at life in modern Belfast, you’re on to a winner with this one. My final thought when turning the last page was, when’s the next one coming out? Good news! ORPHEUS RISING will be on the shelves in March. It will be mine. – Gerard Brennan
Gerard Brennan can be found right here.
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.