Regular readers of the blog will have discovered by now that I'm slowly working my way through Colin Bateman's back catalogue, having been introduced to his writing by a friend and former colleague. Shooting Sean is the fourth Dan Starkey book, following on from Divorcing Jack, Of Wee Sweetie Mice and Men, and Turbulent Priests.
In the latest novel, we pick up where we left off. Starkey, a journalist and author gets caught up in the excitement and danger surrounding the shooting of a new film in Dublin. It's an expose of a gangland criminal and terrorist in Belfast, who isn't very happy. Starkey's job is to research and write a book based on the director and star of the film, a local Irish actor who has made it big in Hollywood.
Spoiler: Starkey's wife and her son are kidnapped by the terrorist - to be released on the condition that Starkey shoots (the double meaning becomes clear) Sean O'Toole. The stakes are high, the puns come thick and fast, the action shifts from Dublin to Amsterdam to Cannes. Another clever book from Bateman. There's lots of tension as Starkey debates whether he should attempt to kill O'Toole - especially since his wife and adopted son are held hostage.
There are some brilliant lines along the way. 'The Belfast-Dublin Express has this much in common with the Orient Express: it's a train.' The travel advice continues: 'Amsterdam: canals, tulips, drugs and red lights. There you go. Just saved you five hundred pounds.' There's an interesting take on a collective noun for nuns - a convention! And also some thoughts about journalism and the internet: 'Perhaps journalism was dying in cyberspace.'
Spoiler: The tension is real, with the hostage situation. This is the book that seems to mark a change in Bateman. Previously, everything seemed to turn out for the best (apart from those peripheral characters and their high death rate). But this one changes. Little Stevie doesn't make it. It's all very real, and very unexpected. I was in shock when I read the last couple of chapters.
If you're planning to read it, make sure you've read the others in the series first. Be prepared for the stinger as Starkey shoots Sean, but the shock lies elsewhere. Shooting Sean is available from Amazonand for the Kindle.