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WRITTEN IN DEAD WAX by Andrew Cartmel Kirkus Star


From the Vinyl Detective Mysteries series, volume 1

by Andrew Cartmel

Pub Date: March 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-78329-767-2
Publisher: Titan Books

A London record hunter finds himself hunted when he’s hired to track down a rare jazz LP in the first installment of this new series.

The unnamed hero, who bills himself as the Vinyl Detective, lives in a London council flat with his twin kittens, making a hand-to-mouth existence by scouring charity shops, flea markets, and record fairs, counting on vendors who have no idea of the value of what they’re hawking and selling his discoveries at a higher price online. For a fee, he takes on a dedicated search. When a young woman working for an unnamed boss approaches him to find the final LP issued by a small 1950s LA jazz label, he takes the job only to find himself a few steps ahead of a murderous pair of fellow searchers leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. Approaching 500 pages and so stuffed with plot it could easily make several mysteries, the book could use some pruning. But the bagginess becomes a part of the genial tone. Perhaps the novel’s neatest trick is that it avoids the persnickety quality that, in real life, can make collectors such a trial to be around. The hero’s preference for vinyl is about a dedication to music, not fetishism. And unlike some of his fellow collectors, he’s not a hermit. It’s not a stretch that women find this affable fellow attractive. The book is much more a ramble than a pursuit. The action scenes are deft but not where the story’s heart lies.

This charming mystery feels as companionable as a leisurely afternoon trawling the vintage shops with a good friend.