Killeena Publishing, 2008
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
In one of the most dramatic and grisly beginnings I have read for a long
time, Terry Tucker, the lead guitar and contract manager of the San Diego
rock and roll band Doberman's Stub, dies when his headphones explode at
break time during a recording session. The band, already popular on the
club scene, has been on the brink of producing three CDs.
Among the suspects for what is undoubtedly murder are the three remaining
members of the band, and Tucker's wife Chelsea who inherits $5 million.
Chelsea hires Jason Duffy, once a guitarist himself, but now in his debut
year as a private investigator. She is convinced that Terry's murder is
somehow connected with the contract that Terry had negotiated with the
record company Cerise Records. Not only does Jason understand the music
industry, his father is a highly decorated, now retired, detective of the
San Diego Police Department and his contacts will be invaluable if Jason
can get him onboard. The action heats up when Jason uncovers links between
the record company and the Russian Mafia.
ROCK & ROLL HOMICIDE is RJ McDonnell's debut novel and in some ways it
shows. For example, rather unusually, the back cover of the dust jacket
contains information about Jason Duffy, the detective who is the focal
point of the book. This is information that does not appear anywhere else
in the book. If the book is ever separated from its dustjacket, the
information is lost. The blurb on the inside covers of this book is too
explicit, too extensive. It doesn't just try to whet the reader's appetite
for the book - it makes us wonder if there is anything left to be told.
Neither the book or the dust jacket contains any information about the
The potential of this novel was marred by an excessively complicated
story, with too many threads which then all needed to be tied off. It may
have seemed a stroke of genius to link the recording company with the
Russian Mafia, but for me it looked like a step too far. I would have
settled for much more local gangsters. I felt the same about an
import/export company called Rasputin Enterprises.
There is, however, no doubting the fresh enthusiasm of RJ McDonnell's
writing. He creates interesting characters, who range from an obsessive
compulsive office assistant, to a photographer who has Tourette's
Syndrome, to Jason's Duffy's very normal and very supportive mother. The
extensive amounts of dialogue on the other hand often didn't work for me,
and seemed to be in need of tough editing. I feel that writing this novel
has been a great learning experience for McDonnell and a good platform
from which to write his next. He writes with authority and ultimately
achieved that final resolution of loose ends that all crime fiction
writers aim for.
ROCK & ROLL HOMICIDE will undoubtedly find a niche among readers who love
the band scene.
Find out more about the author on his website at
http://www.rjmcdonnell.com/ . There you can also read the Prologue and
the first two chapters of ROCK & ROLL HOMICIDE.
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