Book - The Vinyl Detective: Attack and Decay

Tony Cross got into the groove and read The Vinyl Detective: Attack and Decay by Andrew Cartmel, out now from Titan Books ...

Read Tony's other Vinyl Detective reviews here

This is the sixth book in the Vinyl Detective series by Andrew Cartmel. The series is one of my favourite comfort reads. The stories essentially stick to a similar structure. The nameless Vinyl Detective - a fact this book draws attention to - is hired to buy or track down a rare album. It turns out that said album triggers a series of murders. The Vinyl Detective solves the mystery, often at great risk to his own life and those of his friends.

He is supported by a gang of friends and a lover. The lover is Nevada, an American woman with a particular set of skills. Then there's Agatha, who is a black cab driver. There's his annoying friend Tinkler, who role in stories is mainly to be something of an annoying arsehole and an occasional target for villains. Stinky Stammer also normally appears. Stinky is a DJ/documentary maker who leeches off the Vinyl Detective for ideas. No one likes Stinky. No one. And there are two cats - Fanny and Turk. The cats are great.

In this book we find our heroes heading to Sweden to collect a rare death metal classic from a man called Magnus. As usual it all seems straightforward but then the murders start. We get some light mockery of Scandinoir tropes. I do like Kriminalinaspektor Eva Lizell who is our Swedish Detective. It’s not quite the Vinyl Detective goes Scandinoir but it is the Vinyl Detective is lightly spattered by Scandinoir.

Like all good detective stories there are red herrings and hidden motives. In the Vinyl Detective series, the Vinyl Detective and friends are often attacked themselves. Escaping by the skin of their teeth. The change of location is fun. The local characters are interesting. There's also a crow. And a corpse faced motherfucker.

Cartmel writes well and I always find myself unable to put the books down until I've finished. The familiarity of the story elements never spoils my enjoyment. Indeed, I think it might be a key part of it. I once described these books as James Bond with carrier bags and I stick to that. The books make the nerd the hero. In this case our hero is a record collector. I think Cartmel also uses these books to sneak in album recommendations, but that's alright by me.

My only (mild) criticism of this book is there's a little too much Tinkler. He's fine in small doses but he is genuinely annoying in this book. He's meant to be annoying but I'm not sure you want him so annoying that the reader starts to find him highly unlikeable. Oh, and talking of Tinkler he is part of one of the most Chekhovian of Chekhov's guns I've read. As soon as it appeared I knew. But no spoilers.

These are all fun books to read, and it was nice to have a new one to read. I look forward to the next one. And, again, I'll call for a Nevada prequel series if the publishers are listening.

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