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by Andrew Cartmel
Titan, March 2024
384 pages
ISBN: 1803367962

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Vinyl Detective is a wonderful character, and his seventh adventure, NOISE FLOOR, is quite the romp. For the uninitiated, the Vinyl Detective lives in Southern England. He hunts down obscure dance music LPs and sells them at music fairs and other places where table sales proliferate. He has a keen ear for unique sound--probably why he likes vinyl--which gives him a Sherlock Holmes-like attention to detail. It makes him a great detective. Like Holmes, in some canonical adventures anyway, the Vinyl Detective tends to find his services sought out when he's otherwise occupied. The Vinyl Detective has a name but we never find out what it is. (His gender isn't clear until almost the end of the first chapter, either; in a different author's handling, the character could have maintained that gender-ambiguous mystique continually, like the protagonist of Jeannette Winterson's WRITTEN ON THE BODY.) Alas, this is not to be.

Unlike Holmes, the Vinyl Detective's entourage includes a partner named Nevada, some eclectic friends (one of whom delivers luxury cars for a living), and two pet cats. The cats' winsome prominence and the conspicuous absence of visible violence makes THE VINYL DETECTIVE series read very much like cozies, only with a male hero and a good deal more drug use than usual. It's a welcome development for the genre. The series also delivers light humor and seems to beg for a discography. I'm surprised there isn't one at the end, in place of the cozy genre's recipe appendix.

In this particular adventure, a polyamorous, obnoxious music mogul has gone missing from his posh Kent home. His partners and son wonder what's happened to him. The Vinyl Detective, having accompanied his friend the car delivery driver, to that area of England, is roped in to help. The investigation takes him and his crowd to a music festival (complete with a pretentious food truck called "Füd Wagn") and to the coastal town of Aberystwyth, Wales. I thought more could be done with Aberystwyth's setting, with its historic boardwalk, National Library on a cliff, and all-over eclectic vibe, but the Vinyl Detective's travels are plenty entertaining.

The music industry is revealed to be full of the kind of egos you'd imagine.

The book doesn't make any great revelations, but like an electronic music club, it provides an entertaining experience. I look forward to the next one.

§ Rebecca Nesvet co-edits Reviewing the Evidence.

Reviewed by Rebecca Nesvet, February 2024

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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