Book Reviews

The Vinyl Detective, Written in Dead Wax – Andrew Cartmel


I received this book from Titan Books for an honest review.

The Vinyl Detective is a very British character; charity shops during the week and hitting the car boot sales on the weekends, he knows where to search to find the valuable records. When things are looking quite grim for him he receives a knock on the door from a very beautiful woman wishing to hire his services to locate a record; services he didn’t know people wanted. Here begins the chase that takes him all over the globe and ends in a revelation that will shock the music world.

I really enjoyed this book, not only is it a breath of fresh air in the mystery genre (and trust me it is) it is also full of knowledge, and I love books that know their stuff. I have a little knowledge myself on records from listening to my parents talk about them and play them when I was younger (I have a feeling they still would if the record player wasn’t so big) so it was nice to be able to bring forth my own vague knowledge. The information doesn’t slap you in the face either; it’s not drip fed but it written in manageable chunks for the reader.

The Vinyl Detective himself is not like traditional detectives, having no experience in “detecting” he fumbles his way along. That is not to say that he is not intelligent, he is and the leaps he makes are based on conclusions he has drawn from events (can I call this Sherlocking?). My one draw-back is that I can’t “see” him. I picture a young man, a little bit untidy in appearance but apart from that I have nothing. The fact that I can’t bring his name to my mind doesn’t help. A name can really help ground a character and considering how outrageous the plot gets (good outrageous) some grounding in him would have been helpful.

After him with have Nevada and Tinkler, the woman who has been hired to hire him and his best friend; I have a very clear picture in my head for these characters and at least Tinkler is a three dimension character for me. Nevada is so mysterious that any action she does never failed to surprise me. The three of them work well off one another and the rapport between them is well written. With Tinkler and the detective you get a real sense that they have known each other for a very long time.

The plot is far-fetched but I loved it. A search for a lost record which hides a secret? It reminded me of an obscure Dan Brown plot. There was just enough sense to keep it going and keep me reading. Also, if you read carefully enough the location of the record they are searching for is foreshadowed very early on and I can’t believe I missed it! The end to the novel was predictable but the ending to side one was a complete shock. Side one is predominantly the hunt for the record while side two brings together all of the plot lines into a neat bow.

The novel itself is slow burner and characterisation in the detective could have been fleshed out a bit more but there is plenty of room to grow and look forward to his next outing. It is clear to see why Ben Aaronovitch is promoting this book, the style is very similar and it’s great to have another book set in London. Overall I would recommend that people read this book. It’s fun, light hearted at times and is a real page turner.


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