Sent to me by Titan Book UK in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 10/05/17
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback, 480pp
Summed up in a word:
First Impressions: I was certainly intrigued by the concept of a music focused detective. I had to see for myself how Cartmel composed this rather unique set-up. Great characters, big/bold story-lines and an infectious appreciation of vinyl kept me entertained and invested all the way to the end of this ludicrously epic ‘detective’ novel. It is a series that I am sure I will be telling everyone about for some time. Titan Books are releasing so many big titles in 2017, get involved and head to www.titanbooks.com to see what catches your eye!
Book Synopsis: He is a record collector — a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and some people take this more literally than others.
Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording — on behalf of an extremely wealthy (and rather sinister) shadowy client.
Given that he’s just about to run out of cat biscuits, this gets our hero’s full attention. So begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all… (Official Titan Books Synopsis)
My Review – Cartmel has crafted a big, bold and ludicrously amazing plot and filled it to the brim with memorable characters.
There is so much to appreciate about Written In Dead Wax that I wasn’t really expecting to see within. I was hesitant to start reading the book as I don’t know the first thing about Vinyl records, using them, collecting them or recognising the rarity of one. It turns out that it didn’t really matter as Cartmel manages to write about Vinyl that allows the reader to understand the appreciation and it is rather infectious. I found myself contemplating going out and buying a record player to start my collection straight away. With the subject matter of Vinyl being so well handled, lets talk about the plot and the characters.
‘The Vinyl Detective’ as he is know in the series is approached to find a record for an unnamed source. The handler is an attractive female named ‘Nevada’ and her employer is set to pay handsomely for this rare find. I thought the fact that the two characters headed straight for charity shops and jumble sales amazingly British and it warmed my heart. Don’t get the wrong idea though, there is plenty of high stakes action and adventure but that comes a little later on in the book. My favourite part about the whole book is the fact that there is not one main plot but actually two. The first wraps up (mostly) by the middle of the book. Then Cartmel sets up a second main plot that has its own feel and is just as interesting/exciting (though still related to the same rare record).
Cartmel has overloaded WIDW with characters, but they all had their place. The Detective relied on so many people to help find this record and each of them are included in a purposeful way, apart from Stinky who is there to get in the way and steal The Detective’s thunder. Written in the first person from TD perspective really accentuated feeling of appreciation of vinyl (and cats and coffee, of course). TD used to be a radio DJ but now just spends his time buying and selling rare records. His life is teetering on the edge, financially, so he is desperate to take this job. As it becomes clear that the duo are not the only people who are seeking out that specific record, the games changes drastically.
I loved WIDW because it has a little bit of everything. There is plenty of humour, romance, music, thrills, violence, action, adventure, culture and death… to name a few. Cartmel knows his craft and his writing is enjoyable and it flows nicely. The book is just under 500 pages long and I finished it in no time at all. The pacing is slightly erratic as characters come and go, but overall I felt the development of the investigation was timed perfectly and no one spent too much time in one place. I am trying to find a fault with the book but there just wasn’t anything I didn’t like about it. I had a big smile on my face when I finished it and I now really look forward to picking up book two.
About Andrew Cartmel: Andrew Cartmel is a novelist and screenwriter. His work for television includes Midsomer Murders and Torchwood, and a legendary stint as Script Editor on Doctor Who. He has also written plays for the London Fringe, toured as a stand-up comedian, and is currently co-writing with Ben Aaronovitch a series of comics based on the bestselling Rivers of London books. He lives in London.