The unassuming, unnamed hero of this book is known simply as the “vinyl detective:” he finds records for a living. When he finds an especially rare title, he flips it for a tidy profit, which allows him to pay the rent and feed his two cats. His world gets upended one day when a beautiful stranger appears on his doorstep and offers him a large sum to find a rare American pressing of a 1950’s West Coast jazz album. As it turns out, though, there are some other people searching for the same record who are willing to stop at nothing to get it. And this is where the mystery begins, as Cartmel takes his readers on a winding journey through London’s antique shops, junk shops, and resale shops.
This clever, entertaining book will definitely appeal to fans of vinyl, with its descriptions of vintage sound systems and defunct record labels. Cartmel (a former writer for Doctor Who, btw) definitely knows his stuff. But it’s a fun read even for those (like me) who don’t know a McIntosh from a Marantz. The vinyl detective is a lovable eccentric, smart but not arrogant, with a dry sense of humor – basically, someone you’d want to hang out with. The mystery, while slow to develop, proves pretty surprising by the end, and while there’s definitely murder in the book, there’s little violence. The first in a new series, the Vinyl Detective is a unique, charming read.