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Written in Dead Wax

(The Vinyl Detective #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,807 ratings  ·  431 reviews
He is a record collector — a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and some people take this more literally than others.

Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording — on behalf of an extremely wealthy (and rather sinister) shadowy
ebook, 320 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Titan Books
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  2,807 ratings  ·  431 reviews

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Ben Aaronovitch
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
But.... I remember reading this as he wrote it and waiting impatiently for the next chapter to arrive. I recently reread it when I ligged my free copy off Andrew and found that it was even better read all the way through in one go. So - for what it's worth - I really liked it. So there.
Jeffrey Keeten
”Just as the low winter sun was sinking in the sky, in a little shop near the bridge in Richmond, I struck gold. An original Elvis RCA red label. It was in beautiful shape. My first impression was that someone had really looked after it. Or, better yet, never played it. I wondered what domestic upheaval--death, house move, existential crisis--had let it being discarded here. When you thought about the series of coincidences that were required for this object to be right here and right now, in my ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of hipster thrillers
I really think my recommendation says it all, but here's some specifics:

A very, very down-on-his-luck record fan is getting desperate. The estate boiler finally broke, so the choice is to pitch in for a new one or buy in-floor heating on his own. He suffers, but not as much as his twin cats, so when a mysterious, beautiful woman calls on him with a request to find a rare record, he takes the job, and then the subsequent job. You know, classic noir set up, only our hero the Vinyl Detective doesn'
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
An effort better in conception than in completion.

Cartmel earns a few points for a truly original idea for a murder mystery, and his characters are better than two dimensional, so good on him. His background in editing and writing for TV shows to good effect as well. The scene setting details and flow of the story are enjoyable and make reading this frothy book feel more substantial than it would otherwise. The audiophile geek-out moments are spaced out nicely, and are minimally dull. So again,
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, x2018-read
Pleasant diversion, with fast-moving prose, even with the mind numbingly boring stuff about vinyl and audio purity. There were a number of plot points that made no sense, and the book's two parts felt in some ways like two separate books. And honestly, the women! The main character never felt like anything more than a schlub to me, despite his super-sensitive ability to distinguish the minute differences between various recordings and his love for good coffee. So why the heck were two attractive ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is an example of hipster noir.

I bought this on the recommendation of Ben Aaronovitch. He included a bit of logrolling for it in the Afterward of Rivers of London: Body Work . That Cartmel is a crony of Aaronovitch is obvious from the beginning. They are similar style-wise, especially in the use of genre music and London geography edutainment . In addition, I found an almost identical snippet of prose in this book as found in The Hanging Tree. It regards the location of a London
Larry Deaton
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Cartmel's Written in Dead Wax, the first book in the adventures of the Vinyl Detective, is a special book. It is exciting in a special way, written by a writer who has been a script editor for the Dr. Who television series and a writer of comic books. That brings a specific set of skills, which isn't necessarily the ability to create cliff hanger scenes, but it does involve the ability to create a story line full of vivid scenes that stick in the mind.

The plot is simple enough. The Vinyl
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The quote from Ben Aaronovitch on the front cover actually is a fairly good clue as to what’s inside. Not the quote itself, but the source. ‘The Vinyl Detective’ couldn’t have drunk anymore obviously from Aaronovitch’s ‘Rivers of London’ series if the hero had been named Grant Peters. There’s a detective involved in atypical investigations, the detailed geographic knowledge of London and a whole load of jazz references. Fair enough, Aaronovitch has carved out a successful template and Cartmel is ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
3.5 stars.

This is a debut mystery novel and it shows in some ways, in the sense that the book is written in two parts and there are two mysteries going on. They could have probably been condensed into one tighter story, and would have been more interesting and shorter.

The unnamed main character is fun, a record collector who made business cards one day in desperation, selling himself as the "vinyl detective." Magically people with money and power find these business cards and hire him to locate
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I reached the 6-hours point and decided not to finish. There are 7.75-hours left of listening time, which is more than I care to commit to. The pacing and narration is just too leisurely for me. The cats are fun, however, the vinyl is only mildly interesting and I keep losing track of the point of it all.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A record collector who describes himself as the 'Vinyl Detective' is always on the search to find rare records in charity shop to sale for a profit. But when he is approached by a mysterious women with he's business card as for a specific record, he was about to embark on a dangerous mystery for he's sinister client.

Cartmel is best known for being script editor on Doctor Who during the Seventh Doctor's era, during that time Ben Aaronovitch (author of Rivers of London) wrote two stories.
The two
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has EVERYTHING: A thrilling mystery, cats, tons of vinyl, mysterious and evil villains, cats, London, humour, beautiful female protagonists (one of whom adores cats), reliable cab drivers, charity shops, boot sales, record fairs, jazz, and did I mention the cats?

It's gripping. It's fantastic. And you should read it immediately! You will not regret it.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really a 3.5 for the story itself, but rounded up for the excellent narration. Tough to review this one without spoilers, and I hate rehashing plots, so I'll try to give a plot structure in terms of what to expect . . .

Our un-named hero is slogging along from paycheck to paycheck (not enough money to heat his flat) selling rare records when he's made an offer to track down one the 1950's. So, off he goes on his quest, along with a "minder" from his new employer, Nevada. Unfortunately, there are
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read quite a few of the reviews here and although it seemed at times that the plot was secondary, the overall tale is a good’n.

I wasn’t expecting Chaucer or Shakespeare and I can’t believe anyone picking the book up would be. For a writer who had only bits and pisces before, this is a Rip-roaring jaunt. A good British comedy thriller. We need more of these. I’ve started the second, if you haven’t, I’d suggest you begin the first.
Bill Lynas
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A record collector, describing himself as the Vinyl Detective, gets involved in......the hunt for a rare jazz recording, romance & danger. Cartmel's novel is teriffic fun with some nice touches of humour. A little editing would have tightened the story, but a promising start to the series. ...more
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
The Vinyl Detective is just a moniker our main character slapped on a business card after a night of drinking and he's left a few of those cards around town  - enough to know he'll never actually get hired ...until the mysterious Nevada Warren appears at his door, card in hand.

Nevada works for a businessman at a large company, both of which shall remain nameless, and has been tasked with recruiting our main character to find a rare jazz record from the ill-fated Hathor record label of the 1950's
Louise Smith
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: really-good
This is a delightful and unusual mystery. The author is a friend and colleague of Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series, one of my all time favorites. He encouraged Cartmel to begin this series, and I thank him for that. I look forward to the next books in the series!
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
How did it take this long for me to realize that the protagonist had no name? I just noticed that now, three months after reading the book, as I was flipping through the book to refresh my memory -- and then giving up and using the Internet to cheat. Other than the lack of name -- he's a very thoroughly drawn character, so much so that you don't notice little things like no one calling him by name.

I'd initially thought of the book as Rob F
Paul Dembina
Not really my cup of tea, passed on to me by a friend so I thought I'd give it a try

Actually the first part (called Side One of course) was quite good fun (worth 3*) with some amusing dialogue and a plot that developed quite nicely.

But for me Side Two is where it all went wrong, plot just fell apart.
Andrea Larson
The unassuming, unnamed hero of this book is known simply as the “vinyl detective:” he finds records for a living. When he finds an especially rare title, he flips it for a tidy profit, which allows him to pay the rent and feed his two cats. His world gets upended one day when a beautiful stranger appears on his doorstep and offers him a large sum to find a rare American pressing of a 1950’s West Coast jazz album. As it turns out, though, there are some other people searching for the same record ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have never heard of this author but I always enjoy discovering new ones. So glad I did with this author and book. I have listened to a few records from my parents. They owned a record player and it was from my parents that I was introduced to music and developed my love for some of the greats from artists like the Dobbie Brothers, Allman Brothers, and Alabama to name a few. However this does not mean I could relate to the love that the Vinyl Detective had as a connoisseur. Yet the more that I ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was such fun!
Purchased at Powell's in Portland. As bookstores are one of my favorite things. And mystery books are my favorite books. And music is one of my favorite things. I'm always looking to add to my music collection. So a mystery book involving LP's? Yes.
And the lead character has and loves cats. Cats are another one of my favorite things.
I highly recommend this book if you love mysteries, music, records stores, and cats.
Book lovers often talk about how much they love the smel
Tyrannosaurus regina
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
When I first started reading, I thought this was it, I'd finally found the mystery that was going to hit all the right buttons for me, it was clever and quick and well written and featured a really interesting slant. Of course, for the first forty or fifty pages I also mistakenly thought the protagonist was a woman (I'm not sure how I got that notion in my head, and my opinion of the novel increased every time I slipped back into it). The reason that matters more than just my personal taste, is ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I thought Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel would tick all my boxes. I am a music obsessive and this quest for an ultra rare album really appealed to me. However, I got to around halfway and concluded I did not want to finish it.

The story is very flimsy and lacks any credibility. The characters are likeable enough but, despite a surprising amount of death and violence, the story lacked any tension and just got increasingly tedious. It's the wrong side of silly.

I listened to the audiobook wh
May 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF - Couldn't make it to even the half-way point before I threw this on the fire. I totally get the collecting fetish as I am a recovering book hoarder, but I hate music geeks who somehow think that what they listen to is above and apart from what the lumpen prols have on their sound systems. In real life, most of these dorks don't know a single thing about music.

Then they was the main character. A cat guy. Sorry, it's not even like I hate cats but cat people are douchey. The femme fatal was s
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It had trouble holding me
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable.

Not my normal reading material, but as I enjoy reading the authors work on the Peter Grant comics I decided to try this series.

I am not a jazz fan or a record collector, but I am a book and comic collector of many years so know the thrill of the hunt as described by the author.

It’s very well written the pacing is excellent and the storyline just takes you along for the ride.

4.5 Stars

Read all my reviews on

When I first came across this novel in the bookstore, I expected to like it. It sounded very British, and the recommendation from Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series - another favourite of mine, made it all sound very good. There was a single slight hesitation on my side though as I don't know the first thing about vinyl, and this being the Vinyl Detective, I wasn't sure this wouldn't bother my reading experi
Glenn Rolfe
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those rare (at least nowadays) books that caught my eye at the bookstore on a paperback rack. A cool cover and neat sounding tale, The Vinyl Detective was a mostly fun read.

I loved the main character and most of the cast. The first half of the book was fantastic and would have garnered a five-star rating, unfortunately, the second half brought in a new female that i didn't care about and didn't offer any real surprises. I solved the case miles before our vinyl detective and his new friend
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m sitting on the fence with my three star rating and I honestly could go either way. While I was less taken with all the vinyl record collecting info (plus details of all the gear used to play the LPs etc) I liked diving into charity shops and jumble sales with the main character and his femme du jour. I kind of got the obsession with the hunt for this particular set of jazz records produced by the Hathor label, but the intrigues and infighting between record producers, royalty rights and musi ...more
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The Open Book: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel 3 5 Sep 21, 2020 11:04AM  

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