Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review of The Music Lovers by Jonathan Valin (1993, Dell)

An avid record collector, Leon Tubin is convinced that a member of the Cincinnati stereophile’s club has stolen thirty five of his most prized and valuable LPs.  He hires private investigator Harry Stoner to investigate.  It seems like a straightforward case, but Leon’s beautiful wife seems oddly out of place, there’s thirty thousand dollars hidden in their freezer, and his friends are an eccentric bunch and deny raiding his music collection.  Then Leon is badly beaten and his wife kidnapped and Stoner has his work cut-out to try and track her down and return her safely home. 

The Music Lovers is a private investigator tale in the classic American tradition.  Harry Stoner is hired to recover some valuable records by an odd couple – a rather weedy, unattractive college lecturer and his bombshell wife, a former band singer.  What seems like it might be a routine case quickly becomes something much more murky and dangerous.  Using his wiles and tough guy act, Stoner has to solve the puzzle and do battle with a bad guy.  It all feels a bit ‘colour by numbers’ but Valin plays the trope well providing a breezy and entertaining narrative and populating the tale with a mix of engaging characters.  The result is tale that is enjoyable but lacking substance and edge.    

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