The Vinyl Detective: Flip Back by Andrew Cartmel #BookReview

At the height of their success, the electric folk band Black Dog invited journalists to a desolate island for an infamous publicity stunt: the burning of a million dollars. But the stunt backfired and the band split up, increasing the value of their final album vastly. It’s this album that Tinkler’s got his eye on, and he hires none other than the Vinyl Detective and Nevada to hunt a copy down.

Narrowly avoiding a killing spree, negotiating deranged Black Dog fans, and being pursued by hack celebrity Stinky Stamner and his camera crew, the Vinyl Detective and Nevada discover that perhaps all was not as it seemed on the island—and that in the embers of that fire are clues to a motive for murder…

Title: The Vinyl Detective: Flip Back | Author: Andrew Cartmel | Series: Vinyl Detective #4 | Publisher: Titan Books | Pages: 416 | ISBN: 9781785658983| Publication date: 14th May 2019| Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

‘Flip Back’ is the fourth book in Andrew Cartmel’s excellent ‘Vinyl Detective’ series. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books, ‘Written in Dead Wax’ and ‘The Run-Out Groove’ and the good news is that book four is just as good as those two. The even better news (for me at least), is that I’ve somehow missed the release of the third entry completely, so I have another book I can read straightaway.

For anyone who hasn’t read the books, they’re about a record collector and expert for hire (the Vinyl Detective of the title), who searches for rare discs for clients and invariably ends up investigating related mysteries. He has a bunch of pals of tag along – girlfriend Nevada, ice cool cabbie Clean Head (so named because of her shaven head), and the amusingly hapless Tinkler.

This time around, they’re trying to find the rare first pressing of an album by folk band ‘Black Dog’ that Tinkler wants in order to impress a girl. The search sees them get into various scrapes (two of which are as exciting as anything I’ve read in any flat-out thriller lately), investigate apparent paranormal activity and solve a series of murders.

It’s all told with the same charm, humour and talent for mystery that characterised the other books. Cartmel knows exactly what he’s doing and takes the reader on a marvellously enjoyable ride. If it ends up playing a little like a cosy Sunday evening detective show, then that’s only a good thing. The Vinyl Detective is the perfect antidote to the bleak, obsessive investigators that we’re so used to these days. He and his friends are so wonderfully likeable that spending time in their company is an absolute delight. The fact that the mystery they end up investigating is so tantalising, and that Cartmel sprinkles his books with fascinating nerdery are added bonuses that round out the book into a brilliantly satisfying whole.


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