The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmel

Read April 2019
Recommended for fans of hipster thrillers
★   ★   ★    

I really think my recommendation says it all, but here’s some specifics:

A very, very down-on-his-luck record fan is getting desperate. The estate broiler finally broke, so the choice is to pitch in for a new one or buy in-floor heating on his own. He suffers, but not as much as his twin cats, so when a mysterious, beautiful woman calls on him with a request to find a rare record, he takes the job, and then the subsequent job. You know, classic noir set up, only our hero the Vinyl Detective doesn’t keep a bottle of Johnny nearby, and his bestie is more prone to offer a spliff.

And for those of use among us who were born recently, ‘records’ are plastic/wax thingies that used to be the only way to listen to music, unless it was live.

Once we get past the immediate mystery of why someone wants this record–which becomes a forgotten plot until much later–it’s a bit of a relationship story, with V.D. and woman hitting up various London spots known for the missing record. Their search is troubled by a series of coincidental deaths, only V.D. seems to lack the ability to connect the dots. He must be friends with lots of people with bad luck.

I’ll avoid going further at the risk of spoilers, except to note two things; one, a significant plot twist [the shooting ‘death’ of Nevada’ (hide spoiler)] is marred by the absolute stupidity of everyone involved. Like deux ex machina level of stupid. I found it curious that everyone’s explanations were so unsatisfying without any natural curiosity. It’s still a relationshippy story, so am I supposed to blame stupid on that? I admit, it was a temptation. 

Second: V.D. takes up (spoiler) [with the New Girl Ree, (end spoiler)] which was just dumb, not made clear in the writing, and seemed emotionally inconsistent. But what do I know? 

Oh, thirdly, the end doesn’t justify the means. I guess I sorta get it. But not really. Seems an awful lot of spilled blood for that resolution [so the heirs were happy to have paid assassins killing off people over the record? But then suddenly the V.D. is able to find all the copies in 6 months or so? (end spoiler)] It also makes the British police look incompetent, which isn’t really fair.

There’s a ton of jazz references and jazz music history in here, so you might enjoy it more if you are into that kind of thing, or at least get that kind of passion. If you are one of those people that argue the quality of the various kinds of formats (as a recent music nut did to me when I offered him a free DVD), you might really enjoy this kind of book and it’s ode to the fans. Me? Not that kind of a fan. (Either it’s live or its not, in my book, and sometimes live is made worse by the fans. Oh, I said it.)

At any rate, the book was still engaging because hero is a dork who loves his two cats, the heroine a modern kickass babe (sigh), and the mystery engaging if unevenly constructed. I can totally see why reviews on this would be mixed, and no, it is absolutely not up to Peter Grant quality. That said, it was very diverting for me on a headache kind of day, so it falls as a ‘win.’

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Mystery, Thriller and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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