Friday, 31 July 2015

Little God Blues by Jeffrey M. Anderson

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion, The Land Beyond Goodbye and Don’t Look Down (

What We Thought: American cult rocker Jim Shalabon, former frontman of The Eyebeams, comes to London to visit the site of bandmate Kirk’s death. Kirk died of a drug overdose, something that strikes Jim as odd as Kirk never did drugs – being wild enough without, he never needed to.

When he stays in a flat arranged for him by his British manager, Jim meets a 13 year old girl whose mother has disappeared. Realising Kirk must have met the missing Claudia, who lived in the flat downstairs, he begins to suspect that the two events, Kirk’s death and Claudia’s disappearance, are somehow connected.

He starts with a little light investigation but soon realises he has, as he says, become a shamus, a private investigator, albeit one who doesn’t fully know the lie of the land or fully get the nuances inherent in London speech and London life.

In the course of his investigations into Kirk’s death and Claudia’s disappearance he meets and questions a variety of people – including Kirk’s uncle, a stiff physics professor, and his student, Sula who, if Jim takes it nice and slow, may become a love interest. He also visits the senile Hardcastle in a nursing home and his absent landlord, the imprisoned barrister Sir Clive Wormsleigh. From Wormsleigh he discovers that Claudia was a member of an unusual club called NE1 (anyone) which sets up meetings involving roleplay. A further sideline leads Jim to investigate how a book of Russian poems happened to be in Kirk’s hands when he died. Tnese, and other strands, wind through the novel forming a complex plot.

Jim Shalabon has the sardonic wit of a literary PI – Marlowe with a guitar maybe. Written in the first person the novel takes us through the stream of vague investigations, blurring the way with philosophical asides and personal insights. The language is sinuous and at times obscure, winding through byways of thoughts and memories and snatches of conversation. Snippets of appropriate Eyebeams’ songs and song titles are used throughout to add extra depth and meaning.

I found Little God Blues intriguing and entertaining and a delight to read though often puzzling as the ideas jumped suddenly from one thing to another – presumably only connected in Jim Shalabon’s mind. It was an interesting mind to be lost in, though, and if you enjoy books that venture off down the alleyways of consciousness as well as the more prosaic London side streets, this could well be for you.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Philosophical Pis; meandering mysteries; words.

Avoid if you dislike: Complex plots with lots of characters and many sidetracks.

Ideal accompaniments: Drinking Jack Daniels in a heavy crystal tumbler while listening to Nirvana.

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Literary/General Fiction.

Available on Amazon

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