REVIEW: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel (The Vinyl Detective #1)

Series: The Vinyl Detective

Book Number: 1

Read this book for: fun mystery, alternative mystery subjects, fast paced thriller, humorous writing

Quick Review: This incredibly entertaining and refreshingly different mystery briskly twists its way toward an interesting conclusion. Definitely worth picking up for a fun read.


The Vinyl Detective is a record collector who is offered a large sum to find a rare album. Given that he’s almost out of money for cat food, he can’t turn down the proposition, even though it may kill him. But there is more to this record hunt than just a collector’s love of music…

WRITTEN IN DEAD WAX is written by Andrew Cartmel, a fantastic screenwriter; I was very excited to read this piece for that reason alone. Not only did it not disappoint, it exceeded my expectations as a particularly fun read. It’s not often that you find this much humour in a solidly written mystery story.

The level and style of the humour in this reminds me strongly of Ben Aaronovitch (particularly the Rivers of London series) – which is fitting, as his review is quoted on the cover. (If you are not familiar with those novels, I highly recommend them!) Filled with wry, quirky humour, fast-paced, with a sardonic main character who maintains a hilarious and relatable inner monologue for the readers. It makes the characters much more engaging, and the book that much more fun.

The characters are a very strong point of this novel. First of all, the Vinyl Detective is incredibly well developed, but never actually is given a name, which makes him even more intriguing. There are the various friends and women in his life that are quirky and irresistible. It’s a joy to find out who they are and to watch them progress through the mystery.

And the mystery has enough twists and turns, satisfying for even the die-hard mystery buffs, but with a unique twist. The plot centres around the hunt for a particular record, the twists and turns and triumphs and failures, and then delves into the reasons behind the importance of that record, beyond just its rarity. It’s convoluted and winding and incredibly enjoyable.

WRITTEN IN DEAD WAX should go on your list to read! Particularly if you have a dry, sarcastic, British sense of humour, it will satisfy your mystery craving and tickle your funny bone all at once.

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