The Vinyl Detective Mysteries: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel
(TP, $19.50, order here)
This year I was a long list judge for "Bloody Scotland". As a result, I read a small pile of not yet released books, and, for the first time in several years, I had already found my book of the year front runner in May; had it ordered by July; and had my statement about it ready to go by late September. Then, in October, the Canadian release was delayed until April 2017.
So while I had subsequently read quite a lot of niche stuff, and even more advance copies, I couldn't find anything that would match my original choice. So, this year, I will instead highlight a debut which should tick a lot of boxes, The Vinyl Detective Mysteries: Written in Dead Wax.
Andrew Cartmel is one of Ben Aaronovitch's TV writing partners, and their mutual influences come quickly to the fore. Rather than fantastical, however, Cartmel is instead taking his inspiration from the cutthroat, yet mundane world of vinyl record collecting. Enter his jazz obsessed cat loving protagonist. Hired to find a rare record, he finds himself on the trail of a pair of killers, in the sights of a femme fatale, and part of an ever-growing conspiracy reaching deeply into the history or recorded music.
Light-hearted, easy reading rarely comes with this balance of complex themes and oddball characters. However, Cartmel should appeal not just to music lovers, but to cosy readers, Aaronovitch fans, and fans of British mysteries in general. If a book can appeal to that many types of reader, it certainly belongs on this list.
(Book #2 in the series, The Vinyl Detective: The Run Out Groove will be available in May 2017 [pre-order here]. We’re supposed to have Ben Aaronovitch’s ‘Rivers of London’ #6, The Hanging Tree, in mass market at the end of January. This has been pushed back multiple times, but it looks like it’s finally happening [pre-order here].)