Friday, October 7, 2011

The Concert Killer / RJ McDonnell

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
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The son of a police detective, RJ McDonnell grew up watching TV detective shows with his father, who critiqued the stories for believability. (This is something McDonnell has in common with Jason Duffy, the protagonist of his mystery series.) A working musician during his college years, McDonnell has since worked as a professional writer, including as a columnist for two San Diego publications and a comedy skit writer for a local TV show. For more, visit the author’s website.


The third book in the Rock & Roll Mysteries series with Jason Duffy, rock musician turned private investigator, as the protagonist.

A religious fanatic serial killer believes that God rewards the most righteous with the most money. He also believes that rock music is evil and tries to shut down the concert industry by killing concertgoers.


I’m a sucker for fiction that integrates my hobbies or interests into the story. (I know, many of you are under the impression I don’t have enough free time to do anything except read. Not true, although close.) I recently reviewed a book with a poker theme that was especially fun to read for that reason. Today’s book integrates my long time interest in music.

The mystery plot is solid although the premise of rock and roll being the “devil’s music” is as old as rock and roll and the religious fanatic as serial killer has been done to death. Although I can’t think of one off the top of my head, I’d be amazed if combining the two hasn’t been done before too. None of this mattered to me. A completely new story idea doesn’t exist. What does matter is whether McDonnell added his own spin to keep me engrossed and entertained. This he did, with humor and fun, eccentric characters.

Jason Duffy, the lead character in this series, has a unique history as a musician and working with outpatient mental health patients prior to becoming a private investigator. He also has a sense of humor that keeps the reader entertained during the inevitable points in the story that are less tense or action packed. Jason alone might be enough. However, there are a slew of secondary characters who are fun and quirky as well. Many of these I’d guess are, or will be, recurring in the series. Duffy’s two employees are both former mental health clients. Jeannine, the assistant and researcher with a touch of OCD, and the tech-savvy Cory who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, act as foils for Duffy’s humor and add plenty of their own. Duffy’s retired cop dad and mother along with his girlfriend Kelly all put Duffy in situations that are good for laughs. Bernie Liebowitz (the owner of Duffy’s favorite music club and frequent confidante) was another of my favorites. I’ve read books that made me laugh out loud before, but never a mystery that did it like this one. Now I’m going to backtrack to the first two books of the series.


Some adult language.

Although part of a series, this book works well as a standalone. Duffy’s back-story is covered in enough detail that I never felt there was something I was missing and needed from the earlier installments.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos. Also, uses the name of an actual rock musician, but gets the last name incorrect.

Rating: **** Four stars

1 comment:

Lynn Demarest said...

"A completely new story idea doesn’t exist."

Really? Try "The Soul Gene."