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Radio Activity (Rick Shannon #1)

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  334 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
The acclaimed satirist and author of Pest Control begins a new series of comic mystery novels featuring FM classic rock radio DJ Rick Shannon, who finds himself knee deep in a swamp of mystery and murder in Mississippi.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by HarperTorch (first published 2004)
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Rating details
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Don Rea
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
I picked this up because it looked like ideal beach reading for me: A light mystery set in the deep south, with a lot of references to classic rock. Well, I can't tell if this is an inept attempt at a semi-humorous riff on the themes of Hammett's Red Harvest or just plain inept, but it's terribly dull as a mystery and a flat failure as a social commentary mystery.

The main character is a whiny, self-indulgent middle-aged man having the least interesting midlife crisis in literary history. The fir
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
I really wanted to like this book. I used to work in radio so was excited about reading it. However there was waaaaaaay to much description of classic rock. I ended up just skipping some of those parts.

The book is also told from a very male perspective and the female characters are mostly very flat and stereotypical. The mystery is okay, though a bit convoluted. I wish I could have liked it more.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Literature always runs into trouble when it tries to capture the essence of rock radio, because the inner world of the airwaves is so cloistered off from all but industry insiders. The realities of running a commercial radio station are also about as mundane as -- well, the sound of commercial radio stations. After the morning zoo is done for the day, it's basically just a small office that happens to be connected to a transmitter. With Clear Channel taking over just about every local radio stat ...more
May 08, 2008 rated it liked it
If you're looking for a fun Summer beach read with a mix of Hiaasen and rock music, then this is worth picking up. The book was sent to me by friend who knows my interest in both thinking I'd enjoy it. He was right. Rick Shannon is an aging DJ (now Program Director) who decides to play PI when he stumbles upon some evidence buried in the box set of Chicago and Carnegie Hall. Great hiding place. I used to have that set and the poster inside could cover the side of a city building. I digress. Vari ...more
Neil Pittman
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you're a classic rock aficionado, or have even listened to classic rock... heck, if you recognize the name Duane Allman you should read this book. A quick, fast read, you'll laugh at the characters and the hilarious hijinks that ensue when a down on his luck FM DJ relocates to a rural station and, big surprise here, he discovers a mystery. Unstrap your suspension of disbelief and just go along for the ride. You'll probably find a new favorite song you didn't know existed. I recommend reading ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like classic rock... I mean if you really like classic rock, including some of the more obscure stuff, then this may be the mystery novel you're hankerin' after. This was fun beach-style read-- realistic characters quirks and all, a fairly simple who dunnit and why, and a quick read. It got bogged down with classic rock descriptions for a bit there, but once I waded through those it was free sailing.
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is another outstanding effort by Bill Fitzhugh. This time it's a radio station. A new program director is hired and quickly uncovers what appears to be an unplanned exit strategy for a former DJ and his girlfriend. Besides Fitzhugh's fabulous and hilarious voice, this book is a study in music of the 70's and 80's. This guy is one who's books should not be missed and he's now got quite a library under his belt and he's still at it.
Izolda Trakhtenberg
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bill Fitzhugh is always funny. I admit he isn't quite as laugh-out-loud in this one as he was in Pest Control or Organ Grinders, but I always enjoy his work. And I am a music fiend so the music he infuses into both Radio Activity and Highway 61 Resurfaced is fantastic. I've made some play lists based on both of these books.
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately, the rating says it all. The book was okay--kind of a fun read, but not a keeper. Told from a very male perspective; kind of snobby on the music side of things (although interesting); and not much punch at the end of the book! If you're going to read a mystery, the end should have a climax.
Aug 06, 2011 added it
Rick Shannon, AKA Buddy Miles, comes to McRae, Mississippi to take over as program director for a radio station switching to Classic Rock. Sleazy station manager, missing and presumed defunct DJ's and a receptionist with a whole lotta love and makeup constitute the cast of another hilarious book by Fitzhugh.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: actualbooks
I confess, I skipped most of the rock music descriptions, skimming the debates and blanking at every intricate musing about how radio works. I did, however, enjoy the mystery, the characters and the comedy.
Carol Jean
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not quite as much fun as the later Highway 61, but a thorough inside view of the workings of a Delta radio station. And a nice little mystery to boot. My favorite line from this book? "You can't fake that sort of narrow-mindedness."
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fluff
Not as funny as some of Fitzhugh's other book, but it was ok. This on is more of a mystery. They also refer to a lot of music from the 70's that I am not familiar with so that part didn't hold my interest.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bad guys easy to spot and the rest of the book spends too much time on the day-to-day of the protagonist, who might be an idealized version of the author. Lots of chatter about the heyday of radio, golden oldies, super playlists, etc. I'm not interested enough to go on with this series.
Robbie Teresa Smith
Start This One When You Can Read ItThrough!

I chose this rating because the characters were "real" and likeable--- or not. The plot was imaginative and well written. I hope that there are many more novels featuring Rick Shannon.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Decent comic novel about FM Disc Jockey turned private eye. Fast read with some laughs. Will look for others by him.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, music
This is really a 3.5. The mystery was so so, if you're a mystery fan. But the music trivia was amazing. Thinking about radios and playlists and genre choices caught my attention.
Sandie Brown
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great music trivia, good story
lots of fun rock and roll history; not much plot.
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
i loved the main characters definition of classic rock and his music commentary. decent story line
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Easy going take on the detective novel
Apr 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
It was a murder mystery thing. It was all right. Gave me perspective on how radio djs live but ya know whatever.
Craig Brown
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I have enjoyed Fitzhugh books, usually funny and entertaining. Someone said this is a good beach read, and that kind of sums it up. Weak ending, interesting music history, so so plot, eh...
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. 2 stars for the pedestrian murder mystery; 5 stars for the rock and roll memories.
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(First Edition)
Laura Edwards
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The story was lost amidst Fitzhugh's annoying tendency to show off how much he knows about classic rock. Ugh. It's like being in high school and listening to your dad trying to act cool in front of your friends. Too torturous to finish.
D. Norman
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked the story and the classic rock references. Lots of great lines, too.
Mar 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Forgettable. Literally, I can't remember anything in this novel.
rated it it was ok
Jun 27, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2013
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Bill Fitzhugh worked at several FM rock radio stations in the 1970s and 1980s. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, he prefers The Band, Little Feat, and Van Morrison to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Iron Butterfly. The author of numerous screenplays and five comic novels, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his record collection.
More about Bill Fitzhugh...

Other Books in the Series

Rick Shannon (2 books)
  • Highway 61 Resurfaced

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