A tracker of rare records goes on the hunt to find out the truth behind the suicide of a 1960s legend and the kidnapping of her child in the second outing of Cartmel's (Written in Dead Wax, 2016) series.
The inadvertent sleuth known as the Vinyl Detective is hired by the brother of a casualty of the '60s London rock scene to find an ultrarare 45 attributed to his sister. The track is said to contain a secret message which has been rumored to be a black-magic incantation. The detective's client wants to hear what is actually on the disc so as to remove a smear from his sister's reputation. He also expects the detective to find the singer's missing son. Soon the hero and his main squeeze find themselves encountering legendary photographers and the not-so-legendary veterans of the dead singer's time. Part of the fun of the series is the obsessiveness of record collectors, the contradictions between the mundane places in which they hunt their treasures—charity shops, church bazaars—and the sophisticated sound systems they have set up to play what they find. At times the book tips a bit too much into vinyl wonkiness, leaving the reader on the outside of the joke. And Cartmel seems unsure whether he wants to write an essentially feel-good series or whether he wants to go for something darker and more memorable. Still, the Vinyl Detective is proving to be a very amenable companion to have on a treasure hunt.
This is one vinyl nerd you won't mind spending time with.