Honestly, when I picked up Mystery Man, I was really excited because the blurb described what I imagined my life would be like if I somehow had my dream bookshop and a stronger sense of curiosity that would overpower my inherent laziness. And it had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, so there seemed no better time for it.
When the private investigator’s office next door to the crime-fiction bookshop, No Alibis, closes down, the owner of the bookshop finds himself being approached by the clients of his former neighbour who hope that he might be able to help. Having little better to do, and hoping that the cases will garner the attention of the jewellery shop attendant from across the road that he has a crush on, he decides to look into a few of them.
So I guess 2018 must be the year of DNFs, because I couldn’t convince myself to finish this. And this actually shares a similarity with my previous DNF, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I didn’t mention this in the body of my review, but in that previous case, I stopped shortly after a section where the narrator is repeatedly calling his younger brother a retard. Quite frankly, I have no time for people who, in trying to be clever, resort to cheap insults against a traditionally subjugated group. I had the same reaction with Mystery Man. In this case, I’d been mildly amused by some of the japes that the narrator had gotten himself into, but hadn’t really been hooked yet, when the narrative reached the proper introduction to the narrator’s jewellery shop crush. She turns up late to the “how-to-write” course being hosted by a snobbish literary writer who “dabbles” in crime fiction whilst still earning disgustingly high profit margins. He gets her to do a writer’s exercise where she creates stories for the passersby that she sees through the shop window, and tells her to stop after she describes one person as a cripple. He states, quite rightly, that cripple is not really appropriate language, at which point she launches into a tirade, in which she defends her choice of the word cripple in favour of disabled or paralysed. And this is treated like it’s a good thing. The narrator is sitting in his shop, proudly listening as she vomits out this utter garbage and puts off the guest writer. As I was preparing for writing this review, I did briefly worry about coming across as too sensitive, but fuck it, this is where I draw the line. It wouldn’t be acceptable if she were defending the use of a racial epithet, so why should it be acceptable with disabled slurs.
I was briefly enjoying this until the narrator’s love interest decided that her pride was more important than accepting that disabled slurs are not acceptable in polite society, and the narration expects me to be perfectly okay with this. I’m not. 1/5
Next review: The Silver Mask by Christian Ellingsen