Sent To Me By Titan Books In Exchange For An Honest Review
08.05.2018 / Titan Books / Historical Music Thriller / Paperback / 432pp / 978-1783297719
Target Audience: Readers who love historical fiction mixed with down-to-earth thrills and danger. Especially for fans of vinyl and the history behind the records.
About The Vinyl Detective: Victory Disc
When one of his cats accidentally discovers a rare Victory Disc, the Vinyl Detective and his girlfriend Nevada are whisked into the world of big band swing music, and a mystery that began during the Second World War.
Hired to track down the rest of the highly sought-after recordings of the Flare Path Orchestra, our hero will discover that the battles of the last world war aren’t over yet. And if all this sounds simple, it’s only because we haven’t mentioned drive-by shootings, murderous neo-Nazis, or that slight case of being buried alive…
The Vinyl Detective series really caught my attention with Andrew Cartmel’s first instalment Written In Dead Wax. It was a fascinating romp of rare music, high stakes and chaotic thrills. The follow up The Run-Out Groove was a slightly more mellow affair that delved into a compelling mystery of a lost child and a dead musician which really showed how much history a piece of music can truly have. Victory Disc takes both tones and mashes them together creating an intriguing mystery that puts the group in serious danger. AC treats the British war effort with the respect it deserves and I was honoured to immerse myself within this ode to soldiers who risked everything to keep Britain safe from the Nazis.
Following the Vinyl Detective in his search for super rare WW2 Swing records from British wartime band the Flare Path Orchestra. The Vinyl Detective, Nevada, Tinkler and Clean Head are up to their usual antics searching high and low for the ultra scarce shellac 78rpm Victory Discs while dodging thugs, gunfire, hippies, duplicitious individuals, neo-nazis and being buried alive. Chasing the almost extinct collection uncovers secrets from the war that no one could have imagined. Information about a murder case that must be hidden at any cost. Uncovering a plot about betrayal, enigmatic music and unjustified death, Victory Disc is by far Andrew Cartmel’s most ambitious case by a mile.
Andrew Cartmel knows his ways around an enjoyable and historic yarn and I think the story of the Flare Path Orchestra is his best yet. I gladly followed the narrative as it unfolded and it emphasises the passion and importance of music, especially during such a turbelent time in British history. I thought the story behind the murder was tragic and contained many dark secrets within that I had to find out. Other than a fascinating wartime narrative though, there is very little to the Vinyl Detective formula that has been updated. Victory Disc just felt very much a copy of The Run-Out Groove but with more danger involved in terms of format.
There is no real character development, I still don’t know much about the Vinyl Detective than I did before (he likes rare music, cats and coffee). His knowledge about music is impressive and AC has done a great job on that aspect of his writing but the characters lack a depth that should be present in a third instalment. AC seems to aiming for more laughs and cringe-worthy antics (including the resident weirdo Tinkler a lot more). I was hoping to see Nevada utilised more in Victory Disc as she had so much potential as a badass but again I feel she has been left out. Tinkler and Clean-Head are more involved but they just feel inconsequencial which is frustrating because Tinkler seems to be putting his inappropriate oar into every single moment by this novel with no sign of stopping.
AC’s writing has two sides which fight for attention. The deeply interesting historical and musical side that I can’t get enough of. And the present day chase for answers which in my opinion is far too hit and miss. I was glad to see AC upping the stakes for this outing by including a serious and unpredictable threat but I hope AC takes his characters to another level in their next case. I am enjoying TVD and Nevada’s relationship and I am waiting to see if AC divulges more background information about my two favourite characters in this series next time around. I am still excited about another Vinyl Detective novel because you can always rely on Andrew Cartmel for a captivating historical experience full of present day consequences. I just hope for some more refreshing character development in the coming novels.
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.