Non London Brit Noir. A tour of Derby’s dark underbelly in the 1970s club and music scene. Vividly brought to life by a journalist with a love of music, a nose for a story, a sense of justice and a tendency to get himself and his friends into deep trouble.
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Rock N Roll has always been seen as dangerous by the establishment, whether that was Buddy Holly and Elvis (whose swaying hips were famously edited out on TV) in the fifties, Alice Coopers brand of shock rock in the 70s, the bad boys of The Who and The Rolling Stones throwing TVs out of windows, the excess associated with the LA scene in the 80s the list goes on. The corrupting influence that always seems to be associated with heavy music by those that don’t understand it, in many ways makes rock a perfect bedfellow for noir. Tony talks about the important of music to his work and to noir in his #Fahrenbruary guest post which went live yesterday, check that out here if you haven’t already read it. The 1970’s scene in and around Derby forms the backdrop for Vinyl Junkie, a Simon Jardine mystery.
Simon is a journalist at the local paper, who has a tendency to get involved where he perhaps shouldn’t. He has a sense of justice which compels him to keep following the story. Even though he’s a ‘lowly’ music journalist he won’t let the big crime stories go if it looks like someone may get away. Starting with a murder after a gig, and climaxing in Scotland, the story encompasses the length of the country.
In the great noir tradition though, everything is not all as it seems. What starts out as a murder investigation doesn’t end that way. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout, one in particular around 100 pages in really throws you for a loop. I can’t say any more without spoiling the story, but it’s a twist the way twists are meant to be done, no predictable, clichéd rubbish here. Clue: It wasn’t the butler!
Tony puts his characters in to some really dangerous and violent situations, building tension throughout a real page turner of a novel. Tony’s experience of the era and the industry he’s writing about lend him a really authentic voice with which to tell his story. A sense of place and time is palpable throughout, that gift of making you as a reader feel that you lived it too. Despite in my case the era being over before I was born. Putting the reader in the midst of the action in this way is a real skill, making me feel a part of that scene regardless of my personal situation.
Vinyl Junkie is the third Simon Jardine novel, two are available direct from Fahrenheit (here) with the remaining, first novel in the series, available at Amazon (here). Based on the strength of this story, I certainly hope we haven’t seen the last of Simon.