Side-splitting comedy crime caper that'll leave you with bellyache... from laughing...
For those new to Bateman’s Mystery Man series, Dr Yes is a fine example, following the madcap adventures of a hypochondriac narcissist with a penchant for speaking his thoughts out loud and procuring an inordinate amount of unless information inside his fat head. A fat head, attached to a body in ruinous condition, which also has no name. He’s a mystery… man.
The glaring pun on a James Bond film aside (many such similar puns punctuate the narrative throughout, mind); Dr Yes is not so much about espionage and intrigue, as it is about the nincompoop and emotionally stunted individual that is ‘No Name’ and the comic genius of his creator – Colin Bateman. But like all James Bond films (and all Mystery Man novels), this episode features a dastardly villain, unlikely scenarios, improbable feats of mental prowess and tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Oh, and the pregnant Alison who has the decency to suffer with morning sickness.
Augustine Wogan’s wife is dead – or so he surmises after her disappearing act from the clinic of Dr Yeschenkov (aka ‘Dr Yes’). It couldn’t possibly be that she simply left him post multiple cosmetic surgery procedures – Wogan is after all, a critically acclaimed author – even if it was twenty years ago and in actuality, hardly anyone bought his books back then, now or in the future. Our esteemed comrade, No Name, falls victim to his own greedy desire to increase the value of his own, personal limited edition copies of Wogan’s novels by having the author sign them. Instead of letting him loose on the streets of Belfast, he allows himself to be talked into letting the distressed Wogan stay with him whilst he gets to the bottom of the matter of the man’s missing-presumably-dead-but-could-be-just-off-having-a-good-time wife. But the subsequent apparent suicide that isn’t, it is in fact murder, of Wogan, scuppers any thoughts of an open and shut case. No Name is after a Peal Knecklass – and not one you stick around your neck, unless you’re into that kind of thing…
Liberating the chronologically adult characters from their tawdry oldness, Bateman enables the puerile core at the heart of everyman to swagger nonchalantly onto centre stage and forces us to acknowledge that being a Bookseller and part-time crime caperer doesn’t necessitate being matured, financially solvent or emotionally responsible. Nor does impending fatherhood preclude acts of self-sabotage and copious amounts of self-denial. Dr Yes is a fanciful, flighty and frivolous foray into the peevishness of human nature, the banality of life and the ridiculousness of murder mysteries; it is the knee to the groin of grown-up literature and the passive-aggressive eye-roll to ‘serious’ crime writers. It is a literary version of free-running: showing up the fogies for being too rigid, too inflexible, too mundane and confined by their self-imposed limitations to have the freedom to do anything, use anything, flip and jump around off anything that Bateman so joyfully brandishes in his writing. He is unquestionably, one of those writers that you adamant you’d love to meet, but secretly suspect he’s so clever, so cool and so damned funny that he’d make you look a fool. I am absolutely loving the word gymnastics of Bateman in this extraordinarily funny series, but I can’t help feeling like reading him is akin to eating that sweet you found wedged between the sofa cushions: a little bit silly, childishly reckless and consummately satisfying.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012