Patrick McCabe likes to employ disembodied narrators. His last book, The Stray Sod Country, was told by the Devil himself, bent on causing disruption in a small Irish town. McCabe uses the same technique in both parts of this odd book, which is actually a pair of novellas, ‘Hello Mr Bones’ and ‘Goodbye Mr Rat’. Whereas the Devil could have been read as a means of expressing the externalisation of long-held tensions, here the narrators’ motivations and purposes are much more elusive.
They are both unreliable, for a start. In ‘Hello Mr Bones’, Mr Bowen – whose name slips between Bohan, Bones and Bonio, a clown – asks us to be drawn into his plans for revenge, which he is orchestrating from beyond the grave. This is a promising premise and McCabe