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I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass Hardcover – October 14, 2004
The Amazon Book Review
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Musical references of the pop persuasion dot this tasty first mystery by a noted British rock promoter like raisins in a good rice pudding. Starting with the title (a Nick Lowe song), sounds and quotes (by Don Williams, Paul Simon, ABBA, and Laurie Anderson) follow North London police inspector Christy Kennedy through his investigation of murder and arson in the recording industry. Paul Charles lives in and obviously loves the Camden Town neighborhood he writes about with shrewd affection ("There's nothing like staring down the barrel of a revolver to give a person a clear head. Usually such sharpness of vision occurs on early walks on Primrose Hill..."). The neighborhood itself becomes an important character in his lively, detail-rich story about Kennedy's search for a missing record tycoon. Even if you've never been to London or listened to Nick Lowe, you should enjoy I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In British author Charles's first Insp. Christy Kennedy mystery (published in the U.K. in 1997), the humane and vulnerable CID detective's love interest, reporter ann rea, asks him to look into the disappearance of a record producer, who eventually turns up dead. Kennedy and his subordinates set about conducting routine interviews and following up obvious leads grounded in the dead man's checkered career. Charles convincingly melds the growing romantic relationship between Kennedy and rea, complete with insecurities and the baggage of previous partners, with a classic whodunit plot. A music manager and promoter, the author does a fine job of depicting the cutthroat deals and corrupt schemes rampant in the modern music industry. Americans familiar with payola scandals will find the more sophisticated methods of manipulating record sales fascinating. Fans of Lovesey's Peter Diamond series in particular, and traditional mystery fans in general, will welcome Charles's successful integration of an impossible crime element into a contemporary police procedural with a logical and clever twist ending.
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Kennedy learns from Peter's secretary Mary that her boss was being blackmailed for record hyping. A paper trail shows that Peter's Access card was used on the train and at a restaurant. He also left a message to Mary claiming he is okay and will be in touch. Soon afterward, Peter's corpse is found in his Mayfair Mews Studio. The coroner claims he died twelve hours ago although he vanished five days ago. Christy finds that the victim had numerous enemies with varying motives, but which one would kill remains the question.
The protagonist makes I LOVE THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS a cut above the usual British police procedural as Christy empathizes with those he questions even those he considers a prime suspect. He understands that his inquiry could destroy the lives of innocent people by opening unrelated skeletons best left buried, but still does the job he is expected to do. The love between Christy and ann rea adds a humanizing element to the hero. This classy mystery will appeal to sub-genre fans for sure, but readers who welcome a strong well written tale will appreciate Paul Charles' fine novel.
First, I know this is a British Police Procedural, but it may have been just a bit too British Police. I mean, yeah they drink Tea, but Kennedy just seem too obsessed with Tea! And maybe it's just me not being British, but the Initials of Rank before the names (DI and WPC) seemed overused and kept throwing me out of the story trying to remember what each meant. As for his girlfriend "ann rea" doing the whole e.e. cummings thing and Kennedy always calling her by her full all-lowercase name, that was a cutesy quirk that got real old real fast. I guess the fact that Paul Charles worked in the music business explains the industry insider stuff (which worked overall) and the song lyric quotes for each chapter (which didn't work).
And finally *SPOILERS* - A murder committed with a complicated "Rube Goldberg" set-up and solved with a "Murder She Wrote" type goaded confession, have to say very unsatisfying conclusion!