Andrew Cartmel – The Vinyl Detective: The Run-out Groove

Having enjoyed the first in this series, I ordered this one well in advance, without being prompted by Ben Aaronovitch this time, though he has been happily promoting his friend and comic book collaborator’s work.

Once again, the apparently nameless narrator[1] is called on to find an obscure record, and once again the request leads to an investigation, Deadly Peril and some excellent gags.

Our anonymous hero is now living with Nevada, the only slightly scary woman he met in Written in Dead Wax. The two cats are, of course, still around. They’re on the trail of a rare single recorded in the 60s by Valerian – that’s the band and the stage name of the lead singer, Valerie Anne Drummond, known by some as “the English Joplin”. This is by the request of Valerian’s brother John[2], who wants to find out what happened to Valerian’s young son, who disappeared shortly before her suicide.

Much fun follows, with assistance from friend Tinkler, a slightly odd photographer, an only slightly burned out guitarist and an egotistical psychologist. One of more of these people may not have the Vinyl Detective’s best interests at heart, but if you think I’m going to drop any spoilers, think again!

There’s loads of fun with a clearance sale that could be a little more final than usual, help coming just when it’s needed, and more mysterious deaths than the average Agatha Christie novel.

And it’s all done in a lovely style, with such delights as

So we left some biscuits for the cats along with a Road Atlas of Great Britain open to the correct page, in case they wanted to see where we were going.

Not to mention a nod in Ben’s direction:

“We’ve got some ducks like that on our estate,” I said. “They swim in Beverley Brook.”

(And if you don’t get that reference, you’ve got some more reading to do.)

Great, page-turning[3] fun. Buy it.

[1] This might be a reference to 30s hardboiled detective fiction. Or not. Maybe Andrew just couldn’t decided what to call his hero
[2] And unless I blinked and missed it, Andrew showed admirable restraint in not dropping in a “bulldog” gag
[3] Or Kindle-button-pressing fun in my case