RJ McDonnell is the son of a Pennsylvania State Police Detective, who received several decorations for solving complex and high-profile crimes. In addition to a traditional education, RJ also had the benefit of seeing every police detective drama on television and in the movies. His father would frequently critique these stories for believability of characters and police procedures.
He earned a Bachelor's Degree at Penn State University and a Masters at Marywood University.During his college years RJ was a rhythm guitarist and vocalist in two bands. Shortly thereafter, he moved to San Diego where he went to work for a professional writing service. In addition, he wrote a monthly column for the Military Press, and another for a San Diego publication, providing advice to job seekers.
In the 90s, RJ got into comedy writing. He wrote for a local San Diego cable television show that had a Saturday Night Live-type format. Over its two seasons on the air, 34 of his skits were produced. Rock & Roll Homicide was the first novel in his Rock & Roll Mystery Series. The second novel, Rock & Roll Rip-Off, was selected 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year by Premier Book Awards.
I never thought anyone would combine an intriguing detective story with humor, the way Nelson DeMille does in his John Corey series - until now. Rock & Roll Homicide leads the reader through a diverse maze of suspects, ranging from a drugged-out drummer to the Russian Mafia. But, for me, the centerpiece to this intriguing whodunit is the laugh-out-loud humor that happens in between the action scenes and serious sleuthing. The detective, Jason Duffy, who is young and working his first murder case, was a counselor at a mental health center prior to becoming a detective. His two employees are both former patients, and he hires a third, as a temp, later in the book. While the two regular employees are both very good at their jobs, the way they relate to the world is frequently hilarious. The temp, a security guard with Delusions of Grandeur, is completely over the top. The case involves an ambitious rock star who was killed in an explosion while recording a CD. The widow, who is the chief suspect, hires Jason to help prove her innocence. The other aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the relationship between Jason and his ex-police detective father. It's not unusual for teenage boys to run into problems with their fathers while establishing their own identities. Jason's dilemma was magnified by the fact that he played in a rock band from high school until he became a private investigator. As a cop, his father knew all too well the downside to a rock & roll musician's lifestyle. Throughout the book we watch them take tentative steps toward reestablishing their relationship.Read more ›
Murder, music and the mob make a marvelous mix in RJ McDonnell's first novel "Rock and Roll Homicide," a delightfully witty and superbly crafted tale of novice detective Jason Duffy's investigation into the murder of a rising rock star.
The story revolves around the death of Terry Tucker, the hard-driving head of San Diego-based rock band Doberman's Stub, who was killed when his earphones exploded just as he was wrapping up work on the band's third CD - a promising release that was to shoot the group to superstardom.
The list of suspects in Tucker's death is enough to make even the most hard-nosed detective cringe. There's the rocker's wife, who stands to inherit a $5 million insurance payoff, record label executives with sinister ties to the Russian Mafia and his beleaguered band mates, including a hard-partying drummer and a singer/songwriter living well-beyond his means.
Toss in a cast of dysfunctional characters like Duffy's obsessive compulsive assistant, his retired police detective father and a photographer afflicted with Tourrette's Syndrome and you have all the makings for a fast-paced and funny look at life in the music business.
McDonnell takes the reader on a wild ride through the murder investigation, which has enough twists and turns to keep even the most hardened mystery lover intrigued. It's his insider's knowledge of the music industry, strong attention to detail and witty insights into the characters, however, that really makes this novel stand out.
Fast moving and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious, "Rock and Roll Homicide" has all the makings of a sure-fire winner. Anyone who loves murder, mysteries or music should pick it up.Read more ›
RJ McDonald has created a likable character in Jason Duffy, recovering rocker, therapist, and Private Investigator and let him tell his story in the first person. The plot gets quite complex quickly as Jason takes on a client who turns out to be the prime suspect in the murder of her husband, lead singer in a local rock band on the verge of becoming a headline act nationally. As the story unfolds, we meet not only members of the vic's band but a cast of colorful characters from both of Jasons interesting past occupations. A perfect crime to start a perfect series of rock and roll mystery stories. Think Harry Dresden meets Ozzie Osborne meets Stephenie Plum and your getting warm. This book is a page turner in the traditional sense, it goes by quick depending on your need for bathroom breaks and blood sugar replacement. McDonald keeps the cards close to the vest throughout most of the book and the reader is constantly learning more about the vic, the suspects, the music business, sketchy characters with mob affiliations and many more twists and turns. Really enjoyable characters, great entertaining read.
I began reading this book this morning and had it finished by tonight. Immediately after finishing this I purchased R&R Ripoff and The Concert Killer. I'm looking forward to seeing what Duffy will get into next. I absolutely loved it and I would absolutely recommend it.
I love mysteries, but I don't tend to prefer the ones with themes. Even so, Rock & Roll Homicide hit the spot. Our detective is likable, and the author lets us really get to know him without overdoing it. Yes, the book could have used some editing, but I'm not that picky as long as the characters and the story have me involved. My only real complaint is that the main character's girlfriend didn't feel like a fully fleshed person - she showed up to move the plot along and then disappeared till needed again.
All that being said, the mystery itself was a good one, the characters were interesting and worth getting to know, and there was just the right mix of violence, witty repartee, crime and rock and roll. Not to mention some very interesting and unusual sidekicks. Can't wait to read the next installment, and hope more are on the way!