Andrew Cartmel has written a series of 6 mystery thriller books that are based around various musical genres and the search for vinyl records. It appears that he has been mentored by Ben Aaronovich who wrote the Rivers of London series. Book one starts with Jazz. The protagonist is a record collector himself who searches out rare records for people. For me there is an almost perfect mix of vinyl geek and storytelling. One of the missing ingredients is a dedication to all of us who have stood in the sidelines whilst those significant in our lives search through boxes of vinyl in charity shops. The developing love interest finds a joy in searching for vintage clothes whilst she waits but I go for the books.
The storyline romps along, surprising the reader as it goes. There are some in-comments that only vinyl collectors will understand. These add to the story, as does the mention of a rare turntable. There is much for the audiophile as appropriate audio equipment is mentioned – I don’t have the knowledge to comment more! There are also believable scenes of the characters enjoying listening to their music. We are introduced to a range of other characters that will go on to appear in the other books, if they manage to stay alive. It’s an enjoyable book which will make you want to read the rest of the series. Appropriately, it is a story of two sides. It’s the story of a quest to find a message left for future generations.
Usually, I dislike books that end in a way that lead you into the next book as it feels to me like a bit of a cheat. The final question for me isn’t answered but it’s not fundamental to the plot. Somehow, with The Vinyl Detective this plot device seems appropriate and I’m ready to start the second book soon. It is a perfect lockdown read.
Written In Dead Wax is out now via Titan Books.
Review by Carolyn Batcheler