He is a record collector and a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the Vinyl Detective, and some people take this more literally than others.
For example, the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording on behalf of an extremely wealthy yet shadowy client. And so begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all....
©2016 Andrew Cartmel (P)2016 W.F. Howes Ltd
"The Vinyl Detective is one of the sharpest and most original characters I've seen for a long time." (David Quantick)
"Marvellously inventive and endlessly fascinating." (Publishers Weekly)
Really a 3.5 for the story itself, but rounded up for the excellent narration. Tough to review this one without spoilers, and I hate rehashing plots), so I'll try to give a plot structure in terms of what to expect . . .
Our un-named hero is slogging along from paycheck to paycheck (not enough money to heat his flat) selling rare records when he's made an offer to track down one the 1950's. So, off he goes on his quest, along with a "minder" from his new employer, Nevada. Unfortunately, there are others, a very nasty pair, on the same trail. Midway through the book, there's a "crisis point" (shall we call it), where the focus shifts from working with Nevada on that album, to locating the entire limited output of its producer on behalf of an American gal called Ree (audio, so never saw the spelling), with the location shifting from London to Los Angeles. This is signaled by having the "record" flipped from Side A to Side B, which I thought clever.
That's about as much as I can say about the plot without straying into spoiler territory. What really worked for me was that the guy is incredibly likeable, rooting for him is as natural as breathing. There's a sort of "assistant" called Tinkler in both parts, who came across as a bit dim, but loyal (could have been the narrator's voice); he accompanies the two on some of the British adventures, while serving as a sounding board by phone and email in the second part. The book seemed longer than it actually was, but I didn't feel bogged down by jazz/technical stuff as much as other reviewers seem to have been. Even the minor (tertiary) characters were interesting enough to help carry things along.
So why not five stars? Well, I found I had to suspend disbelief to accept some of the events. For example, our hero lives in a bungalow(?) with no central heating in London. I would assume the pipes would freeze, although he seems to have a functioning hot water heater. Also, he has no car in London so isn't used to driving there, but effortlessly (it's implied) tools around right-driving Los Angeles traffic? And then there's the resolution itself, which I obviously can't reveal, which was too neat (clever) for me, although I was pleased for him regarding its effect on his personal life. Another slight minus concerned the taxi driver kept on a retainer for their London excursions, Agatha. The woman has a shaved head, so they take to referring to her as Clean Head for a nickname, which I found mildly creepy.
Audio narration was absolutely brilliant. I'm assuming the guy is English, so does a range of British accents well; what impressed me was that he did many American voices well, too, without resorting to stereotypical American accents. Moreover, he lucks out regarding female voices that Nevada's speech is what is known as (relatively) "posh", Clean Head is Cockney(?), and Rhee speaks Standard American English, so one doesn't feel it's the same re-used voice.
Definitely recommend - looking forward to the upcoming sequel!
Great listen. Well written. Great characters. I laughed out loud at the dialogue. Well read. Well plotted. You can never seen the next twist.
I loved this book. it's a mad adventure with more twists than a vodka martini.
I really can't wait for his second offering, coming out in 2017, I'm told.
The writing is tight, funny and rip-roaring.
I also loved the narration.
This was a great experience.
"A good yarn on an unusual subject"
Clever plot centered on the niche world of record (LP) collecting. At times things did get a bit far fetched, but the narration is superb and keeps the listener going, particularly as the characters are beautifully framed and very individual....most of us would think they are anorak wearing oddballs, but the author crafts this in such a way that their humanity comes through and makes this an entertaining listen.
That it was centred around the world of rare record collecting. I knew people sort of did this and i had seen record fairs advertised, but i didnt realise just how far they take this. Clever way to position this thriller.
"Performance a little dodgy"
Great story, really enjoyable even though it feels like two books rather than one. Only complaint is the pauses between sentences in the performance, every time it's about half a second too long, gets very frustrating.
"A Novel Novel"
A detective story with a difference! Containing all the usual elements, jumble sales, women, car boots sales, travel, charity shops, murder, second hand stores, mysterious adversaries, lots of LP's and London, a lot of London! If you don't have a good knowledge of London, you may find an A-Z helpful and possibly a travel card.
The Hero seems to have no name and is only a detective on his business card, courtesy of a drunken encounter with a print your own machine at an airport. The story is told in the first person and narrator has a very deadpan delivery, which is appropriate to the character, imagine if Sam Spade came from South London.
Andrew Cartmel had me reading until late into the night to find out who and why. Yes, I read the book first and enjoyed it so much I added it to my audio collection, so I could enjoy it all over again. I can't wait for the next book.
"A real entertaining change"
I loved this audio book. The narration was good and the storyline different and engaging. I liked the characters and thought it a good listen and made a refreshing change on the usual crime/detective story. Nothing too gory or especially brain warping but overall an entertaining book. Would recommend.
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