Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Empire State

I've been slowly but surely working my way through the Colin Bateman back catalogue since discovering his first puntastic comic novel on Northern Ireland, Divorcing Jack. Apart from the opening scene, Empire Stateis, appropriately enough, set entirely in the United States of America, and predominantly in New York - and even more specifically, at the top of the Empire State Building.

Nathan Jones and his girlfriend, Lisa both live in New York, although they soon part company, and Nathan gets a new job as a tour guide and security man at the Empire State Building, which has recently changed hands and will soon be hosting a visit from the President of the USA. With the expert development of a host of characters with their own stories and subplots, the action converges in a riotous assembly when the President is subjected to an assassination attempt.

All human life is definitely here; violent, crude, hateful, despairing, depraved, as well as loving, amusing, and downright weird. Bateman's humour and sarcasm shines through, partly in his puns and oneliners, and partly in his naming of characters including the drag queen Alex Maskey, and the messed-up security guard Brian Houston. It's definitely not one for those of a nervous or sensitive disposition.

This is probably longer than two of Bateman's previous novels put together, but the story never drags. The suspense continues as the characters come together and the ironic twisted resolution is worked out. If you've enjoyed any of Bateman's other books, then it's definitely one to read.

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