• Written in Dead Wax

  • The Vinyl Detective, Book 1
  • By: Andrew Cartmel
  • Narrated by: Ben Allen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (125 ratings)

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Written in Dead Wax  By  cover art

Written in Dead Wax

By: Andrew Cartmel
Narrated by: Ben Allen
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Publisher's summary

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

Critic reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Written in Dead Wax

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Outstanding narration!

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!

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Witty wonderful

Great listen. Well written. Great characters. I laughed out loud at the dialogue. Well read. Well plotted. You can never seen the next twist.

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7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Relaxing, laid back writing - tad misogynistic

I left off listening to this book about halfway through, came back, left and listened to other books, then pushed to finish it at about the 70% point. Why? The writing was relaxed, laid-back, and the technical details of vinyl records was interesting. However, the "ordinary slightly-grungy-guy who gets very beautiful "hot" sexy women into bed quickly" thme has started to make me feel exhausted. The descriptions of women that focus on narrow aspects of women gets tiresome. When it gets too much I have to go to other books where women are normal and not "sex objects." I think I read/listened to about 5 or 6 other books in order to finish this one. Otherwise, the story was good - especially the technical details of vinyl records. And, the cats.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Narrator makes the book

I enjoyed the book so much that when I finished I immediately purchased volume 2 in the series. Imagine my disappointment when I heard the narrator that didn't sound anything like the volume 1. Ben Allen has an incredible range of characters. He made the story believable.

I've started listening to the 2nd book but so far Findly doesn't seem to be able to differentiate between characters.

The book itself is good. It definitely had some unseen turns. Just when I thought I'd figured it out another plot twist would happen.

I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Audiophile theme good, crime OK

Maybe Cartmel's skills as a script doctor could be put to better use. I'm hoping the next in the series cuts down on the repetition of facts in evidence. Such as [a person walks into a room holding a book] person #1: "What's that?" person #2: "What?" #1 "In your hand" #2 "Oh you mean this?" #1 "Yes that." #2 "Oh. Its a book." I'm sure that plays well in a TV episode, especially if both characters are mind-alteringly beautiful, hip and sexy, but it's tedious in a book. Better editing would yield a better story, told in 11 hours.

Cartmel introduces us to the wonderful world of the audiophile, which isn't too far different from a bibliophile's. Searching for a mint pressing of old vinyl isn't that far from seeking a rare book. We've all been in bookshops that are similar to the record shops Cartmel creates, so we should be able to relate. Audio is just the same. *And* it has equipment!

I may try the next in the series... it'll depend on whether I miss the characters enough.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • CM
  • 05-15-18

Great new quirky series

This is a new series to me with lots of promise.I loved all the characters and the story arc.However I did think it was overlong a bit of editing might have picked up the pace a bit in the middle section. The narrator was great but again he did pause a bit in dialogue between characters found that a wee bit annoying. Overall really enjoyed this and look forward to listening to the next one .

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story

Narrator was great. Really enjoyed the story. Wish there was music. Onto the next one.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

bored as bored could be

did not finish, could not make it past the first five chapter. Slow paced, horrid narration, unlikable characters and BORING.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Anyone who worked at a record store will enjoy

Very nice and entertaining. Started a little slow and steadily increased the excitement. I will be going after the rest of the series.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting tale with excellent narrator.

This book is really well written. If you are a vinyl hound it is especially interesting. What really makes the title is the narrator. Brilliant work by Ben Allen.

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