Review of Rock & Roll Rip-Off by RJ McDonnell
Note: RJ McDonnell, author of Rock & Roll Rip-Off will be interviewed on KAZI Book Review on Sunday, December 5, 12:50 p.m. – 1 p.m. Listen live online at kazifm.org
By Tim Chamberlain
RJ McDonnell combines a well-plotted mystery with a music-industry backdrop to create a book that should appeal to mystery fans and music fans alike. The interesting part is that he doesn’t leave much to be mysterious: you are introduced to the crime and the criminals before you ever meet Jason Duffy, the musician turned private investigator that gets the case. By keeping his characters and locations moving, McDonnell turns the interest to finding out when and how DuffyI and the robbers will meet.
The second book in McDonnell’s Rock & Roll Mystery series concerns the theft of a rather valuable music memorabilia collection. While Jason assumes it is a routine burglary, he quickly finds that the situation has put him in more danger than he bargained for. The ensuing story follows both his attempts to find the collection and to keep himself and those near him safe.
Rock & Roll Rip-Off provides a few twists along the way, and McDonnell writes a mystery that is interesting while remaining relatively plausible. This book should be especially enjoyable to anyone that has been connected with the music business at some point. The author’s obvious insight into the music scene is a central part of the story and serves as a framework for the mystery.
The relationship between Jason and his girlfriend Kelly adds a comforting and realistic side to the detective tale. Kelly acts as a reasonable woman that happens to be in love with a musician turned PI. She doesn’t completely capitulate herself to Jason’s job, but she also makes a point with Jason that she understands his line of work. It serves as a bit of a counterpoint to Jason’s work on the case, more relationship-centered sections that set up the next round of action.
The small cast of characters that work at Jason’s agency are enjoyable as well. Cory, a young man with Tourette’s syndrome, is Jason’s stakeout photographer whose profane outbursts are only described by McDonnell, adding humor by leaving something to the imagination. The other employee of the agency is Jason’s assistant Jeannine, tall, blonde, beautiful and nearly crippled by obsessive-compulsive disorder. The two are both more than competent, and they also serve as comic foils throughout.
The book, true to its genre, picks up tremendously in the final third. The story moves in a few unexpected directions, and the action happens at a faster pace. McDonnell uses this part of the book to pull the rug out from under the reader, changing paths when least expected. He also provides laughs along the way, and it is a hard-hearted reader indeed that doesn’t enjoy the final chapter. Mystery lovers and music lovers should both find something to enjoy about Rock & Roll Rip-Off.