Verdict: MURDER IN ROCK & ROLL HEAVEN is a mind-bending novel for readers looking to go off the beaten track.
With no idea why he should be there when he’s not even a musician, Gregory is guided through this heavenly realm by angelic beings and a host of illustrious rock & roll personages. But there’s trouble in Paradise. Singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead, and no one is supposed to “re-die” in Heaven. This baffling murder will lead to a calamity that will alter the entire universe, and just in time for a hardnosed angel’s routine inspection. Teaming up with fellow car crash victim Tony Lopez, Gregory puts his PI skills to use to solve the case before chaos erupts.
So goes the storyline of MURDER IN ROCK & ROLL HEAVEN, a far-fetched premise that slowly lures readers into its kooky world. Its way-out plot takes time to get going, but it steadily turns into a trippy rock & roll ride. Behind the story’s philosophy lies a potpourri of quantum physics, molecular biology, and Eastern mysticism with a heavy emphasis on karma. It creates a good psychedelic atmosphere, but the explanations of the universe’s scientific and metaphysical workings tend to be long-winded and slightly weigh things down.
The book’s two main characters are well developed and appealing. Gregory has a street-tough attitude and a history of alcoholism, but his detective skills and determination make him a character to root for. His partner, Tony, a gay, half-Latino, half-Korean sax player, has a likeable vulnerability and is an identifiable hero for the LGBTQ community. Of course, the hook of the story is the population of Rock & Roll Heaven, a motley crew (pardon the pun) of rock & roll luminaries too numerous to mention. Music lovers could easily entertain themselves for hours keeping track of all the rock stars mentioned. The meat of the novel’s mystery plot centers on rock’s infamous 27 Club, those legendary rockers who died at the age of 27 and includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. The expansive cast includes rockers from a wide range of subgenres, such as Mama Cass Elliott, Eddie Cochran, Freddie Mercury, Lemmy Kilmister—and that’s just for starters.
MURDER IN ROCK & ROLL HEAVEN is an unconventional novel. It’s quirky and idiosyncratic, but still an amusing rock & roll tale.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader