Monday, May 15, 2017

Spring Into Fiction

The Vinyl Detective – The Run Out Groove: Vinyl Detective 2 – Andrew Cartmel (Titan Books)

One of the most often used phrases when it comes to writing goes something like “write about what you know”. Seems like pretty logical advice for aspiring wordsmiths. In the case of The Vinyl Detective – The Run Out Groove: Vinyl Detective 2, novelist, playwright and screenwriter Andrew Cartmel, for me it may better be called, read about what you know.

There is just something so appealing, quirky and well, relatable about the cast of characters in the Vinyl Detective series, because I have spent many an hour hanging around with music obsessed folks just like this crew. While hunting down that rare Beatles 45 on the purple rather than black label you honestly can develop the keen eye it takes to hunt down information and clues that can solve the case.

This time around the Vinyl Detective and merry band of coffee fueled cohorts are seeking details on a very familiar storyline; the pop chanteuse who passed before her time, think Janis, who left behind a mystery train that includes a whodunit, a backup singing sister, who goes off the rails and troop of hangers on, band members and countless other rock ‘n’ roll circus types. The hunt is on and where it ends up is never where you even thought it might. This makes two for two for Cartmel and the Vinyl Detective, when it comes to an early entry in the my favorite book this year sweepstakes.

I’d Die For You: And Other Lost Stories – F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner)

Full confession up front: I have never read any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American works. I have also never seen any of the various renditions of the movies based upon his writings. I have however binged upon the first season of Amazon Prime show Z: the Beginning of Everything which chronicles Fitzgerald’s whirlwind romance and marriage to Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. It intrigued me to the point of interest in this collection of unfinished and “lost” works.

While the TV show eludes to Zelda’s apparent “influence” if not outright authorship of some of Fitzgerald’s work, I’d Die For You: And Other Lost Stories offers just the right amount of background detail as too the provenance of these works and some of the history behind the author and the times to lend it a bit of intrigue.

Anne Margaret Daniel, a New School literature professor and a bit of an expert on Fitzgerald and the era uses a judicious hand to edit and lend perspective on the on the story behind the stories. Clearly this collection wasn’t originally intended to hang together under the same cover; there is a loose ends feel to the proceedings, but clearly there is a level of skill on display here that varies along the way.

The Fix – David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)
David Baldacci is brilliant and spinning those stories that you get all caught up in and leave you wondering why it is that all is not exactly like it seems. Amos Decker is a guy who can’t forget any detail; and that may be a blessing or a curse depending on your perspective. Decker witnesses first hand a murder of his way into the office and just happened to work at the FBI.

While the murder makes no sense on its face; no connection between the killer and the victim, no apparent motive for the killing and two seemingly disparate people involved. Aptly named, The Fix, Baldacci’s latest will leave you alternately scratching your head and guessing what is coming next. Even veteran “case solving” readers will get thrown off the scent with the twists in this one.

Decker is one of those live in their own world quirky characters that make for a solid foundation for this series. While longtime Baldacci fans may have some quibbles, I think it’s a solid triple from an MVP writer.

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