cover image Negative Girl

Negative Girl

Libby Cudmore. Datura, $18.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-915523-31-0

A rock star turned PI and his doting assistant investigate the murder of their client in this lifeless neo-noir from Cudmore (The Big Rewind). In the 1980s, Martin Wade found fame with his band the French Letters, but addiction and interpersonal discord led the group to split up. Now, with nearly 20 years of sobriety under his belt, Martin has established a small-town detective agency in Upstate New York, where he tackles cases with the help of music journalist (and French Letters superfan) Valerie. The past comes calling when Janie Carlock, the daughter of French Letters guitarist Ron Carlock, hires Martin to help protect her from her father. A longtime addict, Ron abandoned Janie years ago and is now seeking to reconnect, but Janie fears he has ulterior motives. When she’s found dead in a river, the police label it an accident, but her closest friends think it’s foul play—forcing Martin and Valerie to consider the possibility that Ron killed her. Punk and new wave fans may enjoy the music trivia and playlists on offer, but mystery readers are likely to object to the stale plotting and predictable denouement. This fails to strike a chord. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Sept.)