Last year I read and enjoyed the first book in Andrew Cartmel’s Vinyl Detective Series, Written In Dead Wax, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read the second in the series, The Run-Out Groove, ahead of its publication next month. The first book saw the Vinyl Detective on his quest to locate a rare record. But in this instalment, he is searching for something entirely different – a lost child.
The story begins with a newspaper cutting from the 1960’s which talks of the tragic demise of pop singer Valerie Anne Drummond, and the subsequent disappearance of her young son. It then switches to London in the present day where the unnamed Vinyl Detective is living with Nevada, a character we are introduced to in Written In Dead Wax. The Vinyl Detective is an enthusiast and an expert on all things vinyl, and has a passion for locating rare and famous records. One of these we discover in this story is titled ‘All the cats love Valerian’ the final album by a British rock band, fronted by wild child singer Valerian. After the Vinyl Detective features the album on his blog, there are visitors who arrive on his doorstep who have a particular interest in the record. Cue the arrival of John Drummond, who turns up alongside writer Lucy Tegmark, expressing an interest in the record and in Valerian. And with some encouragement from Lucy, John’s true interest in the album is revealed. Valerie Anne Drummond, of the alias Valerian, is his sister, and they want to know what happened to her child…
Despite his insistence that he searches for records and not missing persons, our unnamed hero embarks on a mission to find out the truth about what happened to Valerian and her child, with a little help from Nevada and various other colourful characters. There is intrigue from the start regarding Valerian’s fate as she had taken her own life in suspicious circumstances, and there is the sense that somewhere, someone knows the truth. In order to find it, the Vinyl Detective finds himself in an array of bizarre and often dangerous situations in which his own life is in jeopardy. But along this dangerous path they manage to track down the people closest to her, and the people who knew her to help piece together her tragic story. This is an enjoyable mystery story which has music at its heart. I found it to be a light hearted read in which Cartmel’s fascinating cast of characters delve into the past secrets of the 1960’s rock scene to get to the bottom of a decades old mystery. And along the way there are plenty of twists and turns and revelations which kept me hooked until the end.
As with Written In Dead Wax, I found The Run-Out Groove to be an entertaining story of music and mystery which was fun to read. And there is more to come for The Vinyl Detective as a third book, Victory Disc is due to be published next year.
The Vinyl Detective: The Run-Out Groove is to be published on 9th May 2017 by Titan Books. Many thanks to Lydia Gittins at Titan Books for providing a copy for review.