Written in Dead Wax

The Vinyl Detective, Book 1
Narrated by: Ben Allen
Series: The Vinyl Detective, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 50 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (89 ratings)

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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

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    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!

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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 .

1 person found this helpful

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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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    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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excitingly , funny and sweet

a good story well read. All the characters are fully flush out. the kitties are a bonus.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Witty and Clever

I really enjoy Andrew Cartmel's writing style. He sets up fantastic terminology like "optimistic cat", and he creates an engaging sorry arch. I found myself thinking I had the story figured out but there was still a surprise for me at the end. I am definitely looking forward to the next book.

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  • Viv
  • 11-07-16

BRILLIANT

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.

38 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Birgit
  • 04-01-18

Twee

Not sure why this book got such great reviews. I think its meant to be quirky but its really just a bit twee and in the end not a particularly interesting, exciting or convincing story. Its easy listening, sort of like the music that comes before the shipping forecast on radio 4; so if you want something to lull you to sleep at night this is a winner. It was never so bad that I had to switch it off (although female main character almost had me there several times), so I did eventually did get to the end of it. But having achieved that, I just felt annoyed because I generally don't think its fair to return a book that you actually listened to all of.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ElltheCam
  • 07-15-17

Enjoyable, intelligent , gently witty escapism.

A slightly geeky hero who loves Hi-Fi, cats and coffee and a fast moving plot. what could go wrong?
Narrated excellently in terms of speed and clarity. I do not remember any jarring notes.
I had read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it and despite remembering the plot well ,enjoyed the audio book more.
Somehow the character interactions came more alive.

25 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dee Murray
  • 06-11-17

Fabulous

This is a wonderful book. I wanted to find out what would happen but didn't want it to end. It is well read too and, yes, there are cats in it. A giggling good read.

15 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-12-17

A quirky story

Would you listen to The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax again? Why?

Not sure that I would listen to the story again because the build up to the outcomes would be spoilt.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

No favourite characters but I did enjoy the descriptions of the jumble sales, the charity shops, the car boot sales etc - all part of my life's experiences.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Just a silly smile most of the time - it is a light hearted book about some serious topics - large corporations and items of value.

Any additional comments?

A very different listen but worthwhile. The narration hit just the right sort of non descript tone.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Di
  • 05-28-17

Excellent plot....maybe a bit of a slow start but give it a go!!

I felt this had a slow start. I nearly gave up. So pleased I came back to it. A really good plot with lots of twists and turns. I really enjoyed the book. A very unusual plot.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J Whitfield
  • 06-17-17

Very original

Like the previous reports the story is a slow burner but the story and the originality is a dream.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • H. Tollyfield
  • 04-17-17

A satisfying slow-burner of a story

I really enjoyed this story. It isn't a fast-paced, action-filled thriller, but an intelligent and intriguing story which just keeps leading you along at a comfortable pace and keeps you listening. I love the detail about the world of vinyl record collecting and the distinctly shady world of US jazz in the 40's and 50's. The characters are well-developed and the good guys are all believable and likeable. If I have a complaint, it is only a very minor one and that is that the way in which a key character emerges from a major event in the first part of the story to reappear in the second part is a little bit "and with one bound he was free!". Ben Allen's narration is excellent, well-paced and brings the characters to life. A very satisfying listen.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Inv1
  • 01-10-18

Slow burner but worth it

I nearly bailed on this three or four times in the first hour or so. The pace was slow and I wasn't overly enamoured of the narrator's slightly comedic intonations for some of the characters. However... really pleased I didn't. It turns into an absorbing yarn with some interesting twists. The narrator also grows on you and by the end I was quite fond of his style. Definitely worth giving it a go.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Titch
  • 12-19-17

Loved it

Clever story, great characters and excellent narration. One that I'd recommend to others looking for some good entertainment!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-28-16

loved it but with 1 reservation

really enjoyed it. unusual story line; loved the jazz content.; I learned a lot about vinyl & got to regretting all the records that I had discarded years ago! the one thing that really jarred with me was an explicit sex scene that could have been omitted without any impact on storyline. I grabbed the remote & fast_forwarded through it & fortunately no children around but would have preferred not to have stumbled across it. why don't books have ratings as movies do??

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cass McLeod
  • 03-18-20

it wasnt for me

the narration style is lacks nuance . its unchanging tempo kills the humour (timing is everything) . the story itself is too slow for me. i wanted to like it because of the quirky plot and jazz hx elements...but I just got annoyed.

1 person found this helpful