Book Review: A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell.

Time for a book review!

A Man with One of Those Faces is the debut novel from comedian Caimh McDonnell. A crime thriller set in Ireland, it follows title character Paul Mulchrone as his “one face fits all” look gets him into more trouble than he can handle.

Now. I’m not a crime addict. I had better put that up front. I’ve not read much crime fiction, unless you count the Watch books in Terry Pratchett, and as for “true crime” I get enough of the interesting and boring bits in together by reading medieval court cases. My boyfriend is  a fan of police procedural dramas but even those I can take or leave. So you must realise how much of a nice surprise it was for me that I absolutely loved this book. I was at a wedding over the weekend and I was sad that I couldn’t pack it in my bag to take it to the wedding, and it I picked it up and read it right to the end the minute I got back from the party. That’s crazy levels of book obsession right there.

McDonnell has written an utter triumph of a thing. His writing stays perfectly poised between buttock-clenching suspense (not a book to read on the toilet) and the wonderful humour he has developed over his years on the comedy circuit. In his first foray into novel writing from comedy it’d be very easy to overdo the jokes but while the jokes puncture the suspense they do not mar it in any way. I don’t know if “humorous crime” (as in, not straight up parody) is already a genre but regardless McDonnell has unequivocally stuck the flag in and claimed it for Ireland.

The Irishness of the book is something that should also be praised. If you are from Ireland, have lived there or – like me – have Irish relatives that just won’t quit, the novel is a wealth of observational charm and humour. That said, even if you have no contact with Ireland the effect is welcoming rather than exclusionary. The skill that it takes to weave in-jokes into a narrative and not alienate those that aren’t part of them cannot be underestimated and McDonnell does it with a warmth I’m pretty sure I couldn’t manage.

The characters are on occasion the kind of stereotypes you would expect from a crime novel, but they are also so much more than their familiar aspects and are interspersed among characters you couldn’t predict for the life of you. Add this to a plot that keeps you relentlessly on the edge, and you’ve got a book I highly recommend and need the sequel to immediately.

Caimh McDonnell, A Man with One of Those FacesMcFori Ink Publishing, available for £7.99 on Amazon:




Not-Nursery Rhymes: Monday’s Child

I am quite bored, okay? So fecking about with Nursery Rhymes it is.

Monday’s Child is fond of bass
Tuesday’s Child’s a hopeless case
Wednesday’s Child is full of shit
Thursday’s Child is not a hit
Friday’s Child is just so-so
Saturday’s Child has an extra toe
And Sunday’s Child says he’ll go to heaven
– It’s what you get if you clone one kid into seven.

Cornflower meadow

Not-Nursery Rhymes: Little Boy Blue

I like nursery rhymes. And I like playing with them. And so, here is my own version of Little Boy Blue.

Little boy blue
Won’t blow on his horn
But sits at the window
Looking out at the corn
That sways in the breeze
On a backdrop of trees
In the noontime – he slept through the morn.

Little boy blue
Plays music no more:
It brings him no joy
While his soul is at war.
Instead a small sigh
Is the sound he lives by,
Though he doesn’t know what he sighs for.

Little boy blue,
Please darling, don’t cry
– Let’s go to the meadow
And sit, you and I.
And know it’s okay
To feel sad, or dismay:
Just remember that it will pass by.

An Open Letter to a researcher on “The Undatables”

I did a new act competition today (it was fun and Tom Taylor won the heat as he was very good). I had my set all planned out, but then something happened that made me forget all my jokes and write something entirely new in an hour. At 15.45 today, I received this facebook message out of nowhere:

Hi Mabel,

I hope you are ok.

I really hope you don’t mind me messaging you – my name is {Name Redacted] and I am a Researcher on The Undateables.  Continue reading

Ten Reasons I’m gutted I’m not doing the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

(This post is the original of an article I wrote for the Student Journals.)




I’m not going to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. The biggest arts festival in the world and the biggest comedy event of the year and I’m not doing a show because I have to save up for a stupid PhD.

Stupid PhD.

Still, doesn’t stop me venting my woes on here for everyone to see, so here we go: Ten reasons I’m really annoyed that I can’t be there – some of which will tell you why you utterly should be there.

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Why being “officially” Cornish makes me happy and sad all at once.


A few days ago I was besieged with facebook messages from my friends at home. Then a phone call from my mother who was having a party.

“Finally! We are CORNISH NOT ENGLISH!!” She shouted down the phone. Then came a lot of stuff in Cornish that I honestly only understood bits of.

I’m glad that the Cornish have officially been declared a national minority. Mainly because I was fed up of getting into fights with English people about the fact that Cornwall is J.N.E. – Just Not England. Most of the people who end up moving to Cornwall feel the same… there is just something – something – different about it and it’s hard sometimes to define what. Even I find it hard and I am from there!

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