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Platinum Blues

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Mandarin, London, 1990
(price: 3.50)

dedication: With love to Daniel and Tamara, who keep me in tune with the times.

The blurb on the back:

Oliver Gulliver is the small-town lawyer; mayor and widower bringing up his two teenage daughters single-handed. He can just about cope with the pressures of solo fatherhood until the night his eldest brings home something even the dog would sniff at.
CC Gilley is his name - one-time rock idol, full-time alcoholic. But love gives the burned-out star another chance to shine, and he is as determined to make a comeback as he is to prove himself worthy of the mayor's daughter.
When Gilley's latest ballad suddenly becomes a megahit with a major record company, Gulliver drops all the wills, divorces and speeding tickets for the case of a lifetime. Chasing a couple of rapacious rogues through the labyrinthine maze of music copyright law, the case explodes into murder...

'Deverell has focused his adrenalin-charged fiction on rock stars and the sequin-collared criminals who steal their work. Platinum Blues is fast and funny.' - The Canadian Press
'Every note rings true in this high-pitched musical mystery.' -
London Free Press

I know bugger all about William Deverell, but this is a damn fine novel and I'll be trying to get some more.

The scene is the wonderfully named Foolsgold, 'a decaying bush town on the California North Coast', where one Oliver Gulliver has long been the only lawyer in town as well as its Mayor. Widowed eight years ago, he's in his early-fifties and has struggled to bring up a couple of teenage daughters on his own. When the elder of these returns from San Francisco with an alcoholic ex-rock star, CC Gilley, as her would-be fiancée it sets in train a totally gripping story that takes in the seedy sleaze of the rock industry as well as courtroom drama operating at Perry Mason levels of shock disclosure and surprise witnesses.

The basic theme is familiar, of course: one of America's favourite myths - the decent hard-working small-town hero - is pitted against the mean corporate machinery that has destroyed the innocent world he knew as a kid. But it's done with such flair and conviction that it really deserves to have a movie made of it, if only to put lots and lots of money in Mr Deverell's pocket.

Good cover too.

All that said, I've got two problems:

(1) The Acknowledgements reveal that Mr Deverell researched by spending 'several traumatic days and nights traveling the Pacific Coast with the Bryan Adams tour'. No one should have to suffer this much for their art.

(2) The best character makes only a brief appearance. An avant-garde composer is called in to adjudicate over whether a song plagiarises another, and he's fantastic: Dr Aloysius Rigby writes pieces with titles like 'Agony of the Damned in Twelve Parts' and he loathes the fact that he makes no money while 'some cretinous goon who is musically illiterate walks in off the street somewhere and makes two million dollars for a two-minute tune.' Or, put another way, 'smoke bombs and flashpots explode around some gargoyle in a ripped t-shirt who stands on stage smashing TV sets with a sledgehammer and takes away a quarter of a million dollars for a night of music.'

Dr Aloysius Rigby is a genius, and this book is irresistible.


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