Corey Lynn Fayman’s highly entertaining Gillespie Field Groove is the fifth novel in a mystery series featuring musician-turned-gumshoe Rolly Waters, but can easily stand alone for newcomers.
Waters was once a guitarist in a local San Diego band on the precipice of the big time, but was derailed by a car accident and drugs and alcohol. Now he’s sober, a private investigator by day, a blues musician by night.
The story opens in the late 1960s with a teenaged hippie fan befriended by a roadie at a Jimi Hendrix concert. Then it shifts to the present day with the daughter of the fan and roadie hiring Waters to locate a Stratocaster guitar her deceased father owned and claimed was once Hendrix’s.
Waters’ investigation leads him to a cast of colorful characters revolving around Roger Sledge, a sleazy womanizer who manages acts and runs a recording studio. They include: Sledge’s former wife, a superstar singer-songwriter; a singer shot and killed in Sledge’s studio, and a Russian mob boss whose daughter is Sledge’s current wife. The storyline keeps readers enthralled as Waters works his case through bars, nightclubs, guitar shops and airfields (many real San Diego locales).
Fayman is a keyboardist and sound tech. Music fans of a certain age (OK boomer) will enjoy random details, like the two FBI agents Waters encounters: Agents King and Goffin. Songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King penned some of the early ‘60s biggest hits.
But you don’t have to be a music fan to enjoy the story. Fayman excels at the crisp cadences of hard-boiled detective fiction. And he often drops in humorous asides, like when Rolly senses a lawyer he’s speaking to has been hiding the truth: “Rolly felt defeated, but Gabriel seemed to have accepted defeat a long time ago. Lawyers took defeat for a living. Often a good living.”
In sum, Gillespie Field Groove hits all the right notes. Music fans and general mystery readers alike will enjoy this story’s irresistible beat.