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The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax (Vinyl Detective 1) (Vinyl Detective Mysteries): A Vinyl Detective Mystery 1

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This is the fifth volume in The Vinyl Detective series, and I found it to be as entertaining as the previous four. The central character, still unnamed, is a record collector but has developed a sideline as an actual detective. The stories usually revolve around the search for a record, which triggers a series of unfortunate events. Often murder. Usually murders. Plural. Not gritty, but who cares when it's so much fun, with suspects coming from everywhere - music industry, TV industry, even Helene's school as a child. As with ‘Written in dead Wax’ the story begins simply with the Vinyl Detective finding a disc (well actually, his cat finds it), a rare disc, and the story begins from there. Sound interesting? It makes for prismatic, quixotic reading – especially if you’re a music lover with a vinyl LP fetish. The Vinyl Detective plunges into the world of death metal in his sixth adventure. Expect laughs, LPs, cats and the return of fan favourites, Nevada, Tinkler, Stinky Stanmer and more.

As for basing characters on real people, there is always a little — or a lot — of the author in the characters that he or she writes. There can’t help but be. We all see the world through our own eyes and express our own experience. And then there’s also the low hanging fruit principle — when it came to making up the world of the Vinyl Detective books it was easy and useful to use my local environment. It meant the descriptions were solid, authentic and consistent. It also saved a hell of a lot of time on research. And the characters in this book are just spectacular. Nevada and Agatha are two of my favorite female characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading (and I maintain that Gail Ann Dorsey should play the latter if this ever gets adapted for the screen), and every book brings around a new cast of characters that are wildly interesting. The Blue Tits reminded me so much of The Slits, and to center the story around a female punk band just makes my little feminist heart sing. I loved the clear send-up of the Pistols on the Bill Grundy show in the 70s, and the phrase “Goat Aid” is not one I was expecting to read, but I’m hilariously amused that I did. Five stars all around, as per usual.The Vinyl Detectives’ love of good coffee, good food, and fine wine are developed more throughout this book as are his relationships with Nevada, Tinkler, Clean Head, and Stinky. It is these relationships that provide the relevant depth and keep you reading/listening. The story centers around the Vinyl Detective searching for, and ultimately finding, several records, each of which is unique, rare and valuable, but each part of a bigger mystery. On top of that, there is a shift from the Vinyl Detective (we still don't know his name) being hired as a record hunter to actually being hired in the capacity of solving a potential crime, with the hunt for a record just being a secondary objective to get him to take the job. In short, he is hired by Helene Hilditch, former member of the short-lived but rather successful Punk band The Blue Tits and Erik Make Loud's new girlfriend, to investigate what she and Erik suspect to be attempts on her life. Since the police don't seem to believe that this is the case, they turn to the Vinyl Detective and his partner/girlfriend Nevada. On the train on the way home, I continued to read and I was not disappointed. This story is simple in its essence, but actually really good. There are so many twists and turns, surprises and unusual, elements to this story. A good old fashioned mystery. At first, I wasn’t sure about the two halves approach, but actually it makes much more sense than to separate the story into two books. The two halves are one and the same story.

In the first chapter, the main character’s cat dies. I’m not going to lie, I almost stopped reading at this point, but the way Andrew describes cats really did win me over, and don’t worry, he does get a new cat or two. This reminded me of a talk I attended the previous year with Mark Billingham, in which he mentioned that; as a crime writer, he is allowed to do whatever he wants to a human in his books, but the moment he speaks of harming an animal, his readers are up in arms, he receives letters, he has angry conversations with readers, he has even received death threats. For a man who wrote a book about the Brighton cat killer, this can be quite challenging. The Vinyl Detective series hooked me on the simple fact that the books are fun. The series follows an unnamed narrator­–referred to only as the Vinyl Detective (VD)­–who hunts down rare records for money. It would normally be a boring business full of charity shops and annoying record nerds, but somehow the VD always finds himself on a harrowing adventure. Every job he takes is full of surprise twists, close calls, and most often, murder. Or should I say, “MMMuuuuurrrduuurr?” I think this might be my favorite of the Vinyl Detective series so far! As always, this was extremely funny and full of acute observations. As it combines several of my favorite things- records,mysteries, & dry humor I’m probably about as close to it’s target audience as could be imagined but I definitely enjoyed. Imagine my surprise as I started to gather my thoughts for this review I found that a 6th book is scheduled for release on 5/17/22 a day shy of my 70th birthday celebration. Huh...The Vinyl Detective is one such true enthusiast. He is a true record geek whose trawls of second hand stores and record fairs are a major feature of each of the 5 novels to date. But far from being the conventional anorak loner his interests have helped him to build a series of wonderful relationships with a fascinating bunch of characters

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