cover image The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax

Andrew Cartmel. Titan, $14.95 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-1-78329-767-2

The vinyl detective, the narrator of this fast-paced, lighthearted adventure from Cartmel (Doctor Who: Atom Bomb Blues), is a failed London disc jockey, who scratches out a living by scouting collectable LPs in thrift shops and used-record stores and selling them at inflated prices to serious collectors. The action picks up when an alluring woman, Nevada Warren, offers him a hefty sum to track down the first American pressing of a jazz album issued by a Los Angeles–based label in 1955. It’s not likely to turn up in the British Isles, but the detective accepts the commission. In the course of his quest, he scatters endless bits of jazz history and sound-equipment technicalities that will please jazz buffs and audiophiles alike. Who is Warren’s employer, and why is this particular LP so valuable? It takes most of the book, “Side One,” to answer these questions. Unfortunately, Cartmel deconstructs the previous narrative in “Side Two,” which isn’t bad but comes as a letdown after the marvelously inventive and endlessly fascinating first section. Agent: Tom Witcomb, Blake Friedmann Literary, Film & TV Agency (U.K.). (May)