A few months ago, we reviewed The Vinyl Detective: Written In Dead Wax, the first in a series of humorous, music-oriented mystery novels following the exploits of an unnamed vinyl collector who makes a living finding rare records and answers to the deadly mysteries surrounding them. Last time, he had to uncover what dastardly deed happened 60 years ago in a West-Coast recording studio; now he’s back with the series’ second installment: The Run-Out Groove.
While the first book had a fair amount to do with old-school recording methods, this one follows more traditional mystery paths, with the hero out to find a rare pressing of an LP by late Sixties psychedelic act, Valerian, whose namesake singer joined the proverbial “27 Club” by hanging herself after her son was abducted. By the book’s end, the hero has discovered whether there really was a secret message in its grooves, and unraveled a complicated family lineage surrounding the ill-fated chanteuse, all while avoiding getting shot, burned alive and caught for grave robbing.
If The Vinyl Detective’s debut was a chirpily soft-boiled take on hard-boiled detective noir, this one moves into Nick and Nora territory, as Nevada, the dangerous mystery woman of the first book, is still around to initiate witty banter, having become the hero’s live-in girlfriend. Also back for a second go round are scene-stealing sidekick Tinkler, an IT genius/record collector; comic irritant/celebrity radio personality Stinky Stanmer; and loyal cats Fanny and Turk.
While The Run-Out Groove’s mystery lacks the pacing of its predecessor, it shares the same goal of that book—to take you on a pleasant musical excursion with intriguing characters—and in that regard, it succeeds handily.
The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove on Amazon