Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

brain
Title: Braineater Jones
Series: N/A
Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Edition: e-book, 234 pages
Published: October 14th 2013 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Genre(s): Horror; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy via the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.
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Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.

As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.

Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.

Braineater Jones is a darkly comic, tongue-in-cheek mystery about a Zombie trying to figure out who killed him. What’s not to like!?

It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this book, and I felt like it was trying too hard to be funny at first, but it didn’t take long settle down, and I ended up really enjoying the style of it.

Braineater Jones is set during the 1930’s and written in a simple diary-entry structure. It was interesting to have a narrator with amnesia who was documenting his ‘un-life’ as he calls it, day-by-day. Once Jones has come to terms with his new Zombie self, maggots and all, the first thing he has to do is find a steady supply of hard liquor to keep his brain nice and lubricated, but that’s easier said than done.

However, he soon finds a partner in talking severed head Alcibé (obviously) and together they find themselves starting up a half-arsed P.I business in exchange for somewhere to stay and the much needed Old Crow booze supply.

Whilst solving a crime here and there, and trying to find out how Jones died in the first place, him and the head meet a whole host of shady characters, and he’s never quite sure who to trust. He can’t even trust himself because he can’t remember who he is, or was.

I thought this was a really fun take on a zombie story. It kind of reminded me of a really messed up film noir. Place names like the Welcome Mat (the speakeasy) and Hat Scratch Fever (the zombie brothel where you can build your own prostitute limb by limb), along with the language Kozeniewski uses gave it a strong 30’s/ early 40’s vibe. All the guys are mooks and the girls are twists and skirts…I loved it.

I thought that use of language and style made the ridiculous, pulpy, plot seem a lot less ridiculous. I also liked how Jones answers all of the questions he wrote out in the earlier chapters one by one throughout the book.

If you’re a fan of light-hearted but gory horror with a sense of humor then give Braineater Jones a try.

Oh, and I didn’t even get round to the fetus-like old guy in a jar called ‘the boss’ who uses robotic arms and legs to get around and torture people with….like a cross between Benjamin Button and Dr. Robotnik. But in a jar. Why the hell not?

unicorn rating 4

Braineater Jones is available now in paperback, e-book and audio.

Curses, Nurses, and a Ticket to Bedlam…

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Title: The Prisoner of Brenda
Series: Mystery Man #4
Author: Bateman
Edition: Paperback, 416 pages
Published: October 25th 2012 by Headline
Genre(s): Crime; Mystery
Disclosure? Nope, it was a gift from a friend.

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When notorious gangster ‘Fat Sam’ Mahood is murdered, the chief suspect is arrested nearby. But he seems to have suffered a breakdown. Incarcerated in a mental institution, he’s known only as the Man in the White Suit. The suspect remains an enigma until Nurse Brenda calls on Mystery Man, former patient and owner of No Alibis, Belfast’s finest mystery bookshop, to bring his powers of investigation to bear… However, before our hero can even begin, the Man in the White Suit is arrested for the murder of a fellow patient. But is he a double murderer or a helpless scapegoat? Intrigue, conspiracy, and ancient Latin curses all combine to give the Small Bookseller with No Name his most difficult case to date.

I’m a huge fan of Colin Bateman and have been slowly working my way through his extensive back catalogue since I read the first book in this series, Mystery Man, in 2009.

The books are centered around The Man With No Name, owner of mystery bookshop, No Alibi’s in Belfast. He is an unhinged, hypochondriac addicted to twix’s and Starbucks, and one of those characters that is absolutely hilarious to read, but if you knew him, he would be insufferable.

I’ve said it many times before, but the best way I can describe the man with no name is Bernard Black from Black Books, who inadvertently ends up trying to solve crimes, both big and small.

 

The Prisoner of Brenda started off with gusto and I was literally LOL-ing at every page.

Nurse Brenda asks Mystery Man for his help in finding out who killed Fat Sam Masood, in the hopes that he will clear her dumb-struck patient who just happens to be the chief suspect in the murder.

I must say, I loved the first half of this book, and as I said, it made me laugh so much, but I didn’t enjoy the mystery as much as the other books in the series, and so the second half was a bit of a disappointment.

Quite a chunk of this book sees Mystery Man incarcerated in the same mental institution as The Man in White Suit, and while, we can only imagine that he got himself sectioned on purpose, we’re never quite sure – afterall he is pretty insane on any normal day as it is.

I enjoyed that element of it, but it lost its magic for me when he begins to become more ‘normal’, due to lack of coffee and the dubious cocktail of drugs he buys on the internet. Much to my dismay, my interest started to wain.

However, there were some great moments. I loved the relationship between Alison and Mystery Man as much as I have in earlier books, and his mother provides a lot of black humour as always, especially when she almost kills poor Jeff (the hired help) with a lamp.

I finished The Prisoner of Brenda on a bit of a meh, but I’m still looking forward to more. It definitely remains one of my favourite series, and one that I urge people to pick up. This one just wasn’t my favourite of the bunch.

You can’t be brilliant all the time, right? Not that Mystery Man himself would ever agree with that!

unicorn rating 3

All books in Bateman’s Mystery Man series are available now in paperback from Waterstones.