By Andrew Cartmel.
Her legs were so long they reached her bottom. She wanted a record and I was going to take her for a spin – on both sides.
The Vinyl Detective barely makes a living from finding obscure records and selling them. When a beautiful woman approaches him to find a record from the short-lived Hathor label, he trawls through every charity shop, car-boot sale, and record fair in London to find the LP in question.
However, he’s not the only one looking for the record, which is also being sought by the nameless Aryan Twins.
The Detective (who’s never named) finds a repro of the disc, and then finds an original copy, but it needs cleaning. Fortunately, our man has a mate in Wales with a machine that’ll do the job. But, oh dear, the Aryan Twins pinch the record, which then gets melted in a fire.
The Detective returns home, gets paid a nominal fee of £1,000 and starts organising his record collection among which he finds a mint condition copy of the record he’s been seeking all along. He takes it to the collector in Japan and returns home a lot better off than when he started.
So ended Side A.
Well, the Detective may have lost one hot girlfriend, but he’s almost immediately served up with another who delivers herself to his door. She’s Ree, the granddaughter of Rita Mae Pollini, who sang on the one vocal track on the record which the Detective had been seeking in the first half of the book.
This time he’s off to California to track down another set of original copies of the Hathor records because together they spell out a message which Ree’s gran left behind. However, the Aryan Twins are back on the scene.
The Detective and Ree amass the Hathor collection again, which reveals that Ree is the inheritor of a record-industry fortune.
I liked the humour and the clever way in which Burns Hobartt, Easy Geary and Professor Jellaway were connected. I didn’t think much of the clues on the records because anyone with half a brain could’ve worked out most of the answer without having to acquire all the records. Like many other readers, I thought that two hot babes falling for the detective was a bit 70s TV (like that PI series Hazel). In fact, that sums the story up. This is written-for-telly stuff, which means that little details such as various corpses and subsequent police investigations are quietly forgotten. The way the story is split into two parts with the almost obligatory trip to the US also has a very TV feel to it.
The vinyl nerdery may characterise the story, but my eyes were rolling at the start during the contest between the Detective and his neighbour, Arthur Himmler (or something like that), as to who could be the bigger vinyl nerd. “Gentlemen, you’re being a pair of pretentious gits.”
I may buy other books in the series in due course, but I think this will do for the moment.