"Bullet holes in a Life Is Great T-shirt. It was the kind of cheap irony I would have written a song about, normally. But it wasn't so funny when it happened to someone I knew."
So reads the blurb of Mirror Ball Man written by Massachusetts author Joel Brown.
Mirror Ball Man is set in the fictional town of Libertyport, although I gather, if you are acquainted with Mr Brown's home town of Newburyport, you may notice a few similarities.
Baxter McLean, a Libertyport man, born & bred, is a Folk singer/songwriter who had a huge hit record "Mirror Ball Man" in the early 1980s, but despite making several follow up records, he never managed to capture the success of his initial one hit wonder.
So, after what seemed to have been a promising start to his career, opening for Elvis Costello, and appearing alongside big names like Pete Seeger, Taj Mahal and Arlo Guthrie at a benefit concert, his fifteen minutes of fame have come to an end, and he has found himself back in Libertyport after travelling the world, and he is scratching out a living playing gigs in the local area.
Baxter is asked by his good friend Davey Gillis to perform at a town meeting concerning the re-development of the town's harbour area. Davey owns the Rum House restaurant on the harbour, and he firmly believes that his business is under threat by the plans of local money man Jules Titward, who wants to replace the free car park used by customers of the harbour businesses with a luxury hotel complex, which would have a huge impact on the Rum House.
After a lively town meeting, in which Baxter gets the assembled citizens singing along to his "Send the Innkeeper packing" refrain, it would seem that the hotel plans are doomed, and after a volatile argument with Titward in the Rum House afterwards, Baxter and Davey seem convinced that they have done enough to stop the developers.
The following morning on his daily walk to his local coffee shop Baxter discovers Jules Titward's body, he has been shot three times through the heart, and so begins a series of events that sees him become the prime suspect....
This book is written in a very entertaining way, there is a rich vein of humour running through the story, which is refreshing for a murder mystery. The cast of characters are interesting, Baxter, the main protagonist is a very likeable character. The plot moves along at a fair pace, and I found myself not wanting to put the book down.
Joel Brown has written for the Boston Globe, and has also worked for the Boston Herald. He has been a freelance writer for the last three years. But now it would seem, he has a very promising career as a novelist, and with another Libertyport mystery in the works "Mermaid Blues" the future looks very bright. I for one, can't wait to read it!
Click here if you want to get your own copy of Mirror Ball Man.