Bateman - 'Nine Inches'
Northern Ireland and Dan Starkey is no longer a journalist but he provides a boutique bespoke service for important people. An old colleague and now radio talk show host Jack Caramac approaches him because his son had been kidnapped; he has been released but a threatening note was found in his pocket.
Dan still enjoys an on/off relationship with the love of his life his wife Patricia. Despite this he still finds time to have an affair with a married barmaid in his local pub. During his investigations for Jack, Dan concentrates on a topic that has dominated Jack's recent shows - a fourteen-year-old boy Bobby Murray, a drug dealer from the Shankhill area, was kneecapped. He then lost one of his legs because of blood poisoning. Local gang leaders the Miller brothers were suspected and his mother Jean has been using Jack's show to get publicity.
No sooner has Dan started investigating when Jack terminates employing him. Dan refuses to give up and soon events are spiralling out of control and the violence escalates, as he encounters vicious drug dealers, inquisitive policemen, unscrupulous property dealers and a jealous husband. Not to mention his landlord Joe the butcher who was once jailed for murder.
This is a welcome return for the author's original character Dan Starkey. I still find Bateman's debut novel, DIVORCING JACK, one of the funniest and violent books I have read and NINE INCHES is also very funny and very violent. Dan has naturally aged in this eighth book in the series but trouble still follows him around. I enjoy the author's Mystery Man series but on balance I prefer the Starkey books. Wistfully I always hope he will eventually settle down with his long suffering wife! The explanation for the title is revealed near the end of the book and is more prosaic than you would imagine. Highly recommended.
Geoff Jones, England