It's Christmas Eve, the shops are just about to close in Belfast City Centre. Four men are precariously perched on the balcony of toy shop: an RUC officer, the store's Santa, the shop manager, and the main protagonist, Mohammed Maguire. The whole book unfolds over the course of a few hours, as the men veer nearer or further from the edge, sharing their sorrows, while the life story of the curiously named Mohammed Maguire is told.
The son of an international terrorist relationship, Mohammed's dad is an Egyptian militant, while his mum is from the Falls Road and a staunch member of the IRA. While on a Libyan training camp, Mohammed's parents are killed, leaving him an orphan. There then follows, in true Colin Bateman style, a quirky and unusual story with Northern Ireland's recent history as the backdrop. Mohammed Maguire is presented as the hero at the centre of an alternative history, where as a young boy arrested and interned because of his infamous family, he begins the refusal to wear prison clothes, simply because it doesn't fit him. From there, the prisons dispute escalates as those in authority misunderstand his simple request for uniform that will fit.
It's an interesting and imaginative tale that provides fewer laughs than some of Bateman's other books. But be ready for the twist at the very end. Mohammed Maguire is available from Amazonand for Kindle.