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Thread: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

  1. #1
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    I'm working my way through a crime series by British writer, Mark Billingham. The policeman/hero loves gritty older American country music, especially Johnny Cash. In "The Burning Girl" from 2004, the hero is trying to shut down for the night.

    "Reaching across for his Walkman, he pulled on the headphones and pressed play: The Mountain, Steve Earle's 1999 collaboration with the Del McCoury Band. He rubbed at the tightness in his chest, deciding that it almost certainly was indigestion.

    "It was impossible to stay down for too long, listening to bluegrass."



    This last line is actually a bit ambiguous as far as its spirit. Is he saying that it was impossible for the food to stay down for too long, or for his spirit to stay down for too long. Either way, I was surprised and intrigued to see a reference to Del and to Bluegrass!
    Doug Brock
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    The ambiguity is palpable for BG fans like many of us (myself included)! I like to think he was referring to the more positive aspect of the music making him feel a bit better. Wasn’t it Steve Martin that said “It’s almost impossible to play (the banjo) without smiling!” I substitute bluegrass music for the
    “five stringed instrument of torture” to be the tiniest bit more broad minded!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    Banjo player smiles. Audience? Maybe, maybe not...
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    Aww, geeze!
    Or maybe “Gee, Haw?”
    I can be pretty “Muley” about playing (or listening to) music.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    If you like mysteries (the ones with interesting characters and regional flavor, not the high-andrenaline, high body-count kind),
    The Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series by Lynda McDaniel has a main character who -- especially by Volume 3 -- plays in a bluegrass band.
    Volume 4, which she is working on now, is has a story woven entirely around old murder ballads.

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    I'll check her out!
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Pisgah Wonder open back banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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    Fatally Flawed Bill Kammerzell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    I've been looking for a new writer.
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    If you enjoy crime novels with some musical background, here are a few from a book I wrote on crime fiction back in 2008:

    Duchin, Peter, and John Morgan Wilson
    Good Morning Heartache. Philip Damon mysteries. 2004. Berkley, ISBN 0425199215
    It’s 1965, and bandleader Philip Damon is bringing his big band out to LA for a gig at the Cocoanut Grove club. Fortunately, he has with him his sax player, Hercules Platt, who is a former cop. Damon is short a trumpeter and hires a replacement, but the new man is found dead of an apparent overdose. Damon and Platt delve into the LA music and glamour scene to unravel the mystery.

    Frommer, Sara
    The Vanishing Violinist. Joan Spencer mysteries. 2000. Worldwide Library, ISBN 0373263597
    An international violin competition brings a big crowd to Indianapolis, including the future son-in-law of Joan Spencer, manager of the local orchestra. Bad luck stalks the competitors, though, and a stolen Stradivarius and a missing violinist lead Joan to investigate the world of music competitions. Frommer captures the hectic and tension-filled life of a young classical performer, and her description of musical performances are spot on.

    Glatzer, Hal
    Fugue in Hell’s Kitchen. Katy Green mysteries. 2004. Daniel and Daniel, ISBN 1880284707
    Violins are not only played in classical music, and Glatzer’s Katy Green isan accomplished swing player looking for work in New York City just before World War II. Investigating a stolen music manuscript for a friend leads Katy to the library of a music academy in Hell’s Kitchen. As bodies turn up, Katy’s investigation takes a darker turn and leads her across New York City from the jazz clubs to the conservatories. Glatzer gets the period and music details just right.

    Grabien, Deborah
    The Weaver and the Factory Maid. English Ballad mysteries. 2003. St. Martin’s Minotaur, ISBN 0312314221
    The English folk-music scene is the setting for Grabien’s series that mixes music, mystery, and the supernatural. Folk singer Ringan Laine comes into possession of a cottage in Somerset and quickly finds the property haunted by the ghosts of a pair of lovers who were killed in the early nineteenth century. The story uses the old ballad “The Weaver and the Factory Maid” as a jumping- off point for each chapter, as Laine and his musical friends uncover the story of the ill-fated lovers and put their spirits to rest.

    Gur, Batya
    Murder Duet: A Musical Case. Michael Ohayon mysteries. 2000. Harper Paperbacks, ISBN 0060932988
    Israeli writer Batya Gur is known for creating thoughtful and driven Jerusalem Police Superintendent Michael Ohayon. In this case, Ohayon is drawn into the world of professional classical musicians when the husband and son of a cellist are murdered. The cellist is a close friend of Ohayon, and her family is deeply involved in music, both as performers and instrument dealers. Gur has a fine sense for the way music affects us and writes lyrically about music and musicians.

    Holmes, Rupert
    Swing. 2005. Random House, ISBN 140006158X
    Rupert Holmes may be known to most of us as the composer and performer of “The Piña Colada Song” in the late 1970s. But he is also a gifted writer, whose stage mysteries have won Edgar Awards. In Swing, Holmes takes us back to 1940 San Francisco, the heart of the swing era. Jazz musician Ray Sherwood comes to town with his band looking for gigs but finds murder and espionage in his way. Holmes has a keen sense of the life of the traveling musician, and the book is accompanied by a CD of Holmes’s own swing com- positions that relate to the tale.

    Lopresti, Robert
    Such a Killing Crime. 2005. Kearney Street Books, ISBN 0972370633
    Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs—it is 1963, and the folk scene in Green- wich Village is booming. Joe Talley manages the folk club The Riding Beggar, and when a promising singer is killed and his demo tapes stolen, Talley takes it on himself to track down the missing recordings and solve the crime. Lopresti has an ear and an eye for Village life in the 1960s, and his portrayals of the time and the people sing out.

    Ross, Kate
    The Devil in Music. Julian Kestrel mysteries. 1998. Penguin, ISBN 0140263640
    Where would opera and Italy be without each other? Passionate, extravagant, soulful, the opera world proves a wonderful setting for a mystery. Here, nineteenth-century dandy and sleuth Julian Kestrel must uncover the secrets surrounding the murder of a music-loving aristocrat, supposedly killed by an up-and-coming young singer. Ross’s plot is as complex as a Verdi opera and has at least as many characters. From the famed La Scala theater to the homes of the Milanese aristocracy, Kestrel brings the mystery to a harmonious climax.

    McCrumb, Sharon
    The Ballad of Frankie Silver. Ballad mysteries. 1999. Signet, ISBN 0451197399
    Rural Appalachia is the setting for the stories in McCrumb’s Ballad series, and she writes descriptively and eloquently about the land and the people who inhabit it. In many of the stories, McCrumb reflects on the links between the past and the present, as here, in which Sheriff Spencer Arrowood is forced to rethink the arrest of a man years earlier who is now awaiting execution. Arrowood ponders the case in light of an old story about another wrongful execution.

    Happy reading!

    Barry

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  13. #9
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    Less on the topic of crime or mystery books, but music and Appalachia related, how about Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John books? Sort of supernatural-ish, science fiction-ish; Silver John and his silver strung guitar. Creepy yet cool. Two I have are "After Dark" and "The Lost and the Lurking". Come to think about it, I've got a book of short stories from this series that I've never read. Maybe I'll pull it out tonight. Been reading James Fenmore Cooper, "The Deerslayer" but the font is tiny and dense for my oldish eyes.

    Sue

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    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Funny reference to Bluegrass in mystery novel

    Reading it through several times, I think he meant his spirit, plus the fact that it was "his" music, in "his" Walkman.

    I'm going with that.
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