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The Music Lovers

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Detective Harry Stoner has seen better days. It's the middle of January and business is slower than a crawl. Curled up in his office with a paperback mystery, a little classical music on the radio, and a bottle of Scotch, Harry's ready to cut his losses and hibernate until spring. The only problem is that Harry's been living off Visa credit and Christmas cash, and the mone Detective Harry Stoner has seen better days. It's the middle of January and business is slower than a crawl. Curled up in his office with a paperback mystery, a little classical music on the radio, and a bottle of Scotch, Harry's ready to cut his losses and hibernate until spring. The only problem is that Harry's been living off Visa credit and Christmas cash, and the money faucet is beginning to run dry. Enter Leon Tubin, an odd little man with worn trousers but a pocketful of cash. Leon's a collector of vintage LP recordings and he's sure another member of his music-listening group is ripping him off. They're all jealous of his record library, especially his Wagner-loving rival, Sherwood Loeffler. It seems to be nickel-and-dime stuff to Harry but Leon insists that the recordings in question are worth about ten thousand dollars. Convincing arguments are one thing, an advance of five crisp one-hundred-dollar bills is another. Harry takes the case. After interviews with Leon's music-loving cronies, Harry is struck by their obsessive audio compulsions but almost positive that when it comes to grand theft, they are all on the up-and-up. It's Leon's blond bombshell of a wife, Sheila, who has Harry doing a double take. What's a woman like her doing with a wimp like Leon? Sheila confides that Leon saved her years before from her days as a swizzle-stick lounge singer, and out of loyalty and true love she'd do anything to protect him. But what does Sheila's past have to do with a bunch of stolen records? A bizarre trail of clues emerges but, in the end, Harry finds his case won't be completely resolved even though he's heard the fat lady sing over and over again.


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Detective Harry Stoner has seen better days. It's the middle of January and business is slower than a crawl. Curled up in his office with a paperback mystery, a little classical music on the radio, and a bottle of Scotch, Harry's ready to cut his losses and hibernate until spring. The only problem is that Harry's been living off Visa credit and Christmas cash, and the mone Detective Harry Stoner has seen better days. It's the middle of January and business is slower than a crawl. Curled up in his office with a paperback mystery, a little classical music on the radio, and a bottle of Scotch, Harry's ready to cut his losses and hibernate until spring. The only problem is that Harry's been living off Visa credit and Christmas cash, and the money faucet is beginning to run dry. Enter Leon Tubin, an odd little man with worn trousers but a pocketful of cash. Leon's a collector of vintage LP recordings and he's sure another member of his music-listening group is ripping him off. They're all jealous of his record library, especially his Wagner-loving rival, Sherwood Loeffler. It seems to be nickel-and-dime stuff to Harry but Leon insists that the recordings in question are worth about ten thousand dollars. Convincing arguments are one thing, an advance of five crisp one-hundred-dollar bills is another. Harry takes the case. After interviews with Leon's music-loving cronies, Harry is struck by their obsessive audio compulsions but almost positive that when it comes to grand theft, they are all on the up-and-up. It's Leon's blond bombshell of a wife, Sheila, who has Harry doing a double take. What's a woman like her doing with a wimp like Leon? Sheila confides that Leon saved her years before from her days as a swizzle-stick lounge singer, and out of loyalty and true love she'd do anything to protect him. But what does Sheila's past have to do with a bunch of stolen records? A bizarre trail of clues emerges but, in the end, Harry finds his case won't be completely resolved even though he's heard the fat lady sing over and over again.

30 review for The Music Lovers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    I must be some kind of contrarian. After being disappointed in the last two Valin novels, both of which had “Shamus Award” attention—Extenuating Circumstances (winner), Second Chance (nominee)—I am unequivocally delighted by the next volume in the Harry Stoner series, The Music Lovers which, as far as I can tell, received no award buzz at all. Perhaps the critics didn’t like the tone. The Music Lovers (1993)—Valin’s penultimate novel, at least to date—embodies a dramatic shift in tone. The previo I must be some kind of contrarian. After being disappointed in the last two Valin novels, both of which had “Shamus Award” attention—Extenuating Circumstances (winner), Second Chance (nominee)—I am unequivocally delighted by the next volume in the Harry Stoner series, The Music Lovers which, as far as I can tell, received no award buzz at all. Perhaps the critics didn’t like the tone. The Music Lovers (1993)—Valin’s penultimate novel, at least to date—embodies a dramatic shift in tone. The previous nine novels were world-weary, grim, featuring some very bad people and some very bloody crimes. The crimes of The Music Lovers are still bloody, but the people are odd and amusing, like characters out a ‘30s screwball comedy. They are mostly dedicated audiophiles, OCD eccentric with a passionate love for music, but an even more ardent love for their quest for the holy grail of sound—the properly balanced audio system that can fool the listener into thinking the orchestra is playing right there in the living room. Detective Harry Stoner—a lover of music but no means an audiophile—enters into the weird little world of audiophiles when Leon Tubin arrives in his office on evening to hire him to find a burglar who stole from him some very valuable vinyl discs. Leon, who is Jewish and a bit of a nebbish, is convinced that the thief is a member of his own audiophile club, his bete-noir the Wagner-loving Sherwood Loeffler who has a habit of using antisemitic taunts to get under Leon’s skin. Things aren’t that simple, of course. Leon’s implausibly beautiful wife appears to have something to hide, and—at least in Stoner’s opinion—Leoffler doesn’t seem a better suspect than anybody else in the audiophile club. Soon the burglaries grow violent, and there is a more serious crime to solve. Harry Stoner has difficult case on his hands. The last quarter of the novel shifts from comedy to suspense, and the resolution of the plot is both sudden and satisfying. I think The Music Lovers may be Valin’s third or fourth best novel, right up there with Extenuating Circumstances, Lifework, and Fire Lake. But then you should take this whole review with a grain of salt. After all, I am some kind of contrarian.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    The Music Lovers is a private investigator tale in the classic American tradition. Harry Stoner is hired to recover some valuable records by an odd couple – a rather weedy, unattractive college lecturer and his bombshell wife, a former band singer. What seems like it might be a routine case quickly becomes something much more murky and dangerous. Using his wiles and tough guy act, Stoner has to solve the puzzle and do battle with a bad guy. It all feels a bit ‘colour by numbers’ but Valin plays The Music Lovers is a private investigator tale in the classic American tradition. Harry Stoner is hired to recover some valuable records by an odd couple – a rather weedy, unattractive college lecturer and his bombshell wife, a former band singer. What seems like it might be a routine case quickly becomes something much more murky and dangerous. Using his wiles and tough guy act, Stoner has to solve the puzzle and do battle with a bad guy. It all feels a bit ‘colour by numbers’ but Valin plays the trope well providing a breezy and entertaining narrative and populating the tale with a mix of engaging characters. The result is tale that is enjoyable but lacking substance and edge.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    I listened to this audiobook. Harry Stoner is that Sam Spade kind of private eye. Rough and tough, Harry is all old school. Unfortunately sometimes the dialogue gets just a touch too corny. But this story was one of the better Harry Stoner plots. Harry is doing poorly financially, so when a little man offers him $500 to recover stolen LP records, Harry agrees. Harry does not appreciate the value of the albums at first. He meets members of the audiophile group. They are obsessive about their musi I listened to this audiobook. Harry Stoner is that Sam Spade kind of private eye. Rough and tough, Harry is all old school. Unfortunately sometimes the dialogue gets just a touch too corny. But this story was one of the better Harry Stoner plots. Harry is doing poorly financially, so when a little man offers him $500 to recover stolen LP records, Harry agrees. Harry does not appreciate the value of the albums at first. He meets members of the audiophile group. They are obsessive about their music and stereos. Harry's client insists that his rival in the group has stolen the albums. But as Harry digs the case becomes very much more complicated. When Harry finds $30,000 in the man's freezer, he starts wondering if there is more than he bargained for with this odd group of men. Then the guy is beaten and his wife is kidnapped. Harry is in deep. There is a surprise twist at the end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paula Schumm

    I listened to the audiobook from the library. The Music Lovers is a group of guys in Cincinnati who love old vinyl records and sound systems. One of them hires private detective Harry Stoner to find out who stole part of his private collection. The characters are engaging and quirky, and the plot is twisty. Recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ken French

    Much less dark than the other book from this series that I recently read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard Reich

    A much lighter tone to this book than prior books in the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hapzydeco

    An audiophile and his classical LPs collection serve as the red herring for P.I. Stoner. toner has a Rockford feel for detecting.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joan Porter

    tried to read this twice. the characters just never caught hold.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elly Wendy

    An entertaining, light read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carol Jean

    Wow, amazing atmosphere and fantastic characters. I LOVE this series!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bill Colburn

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Thiel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  16. 4 out of 5

    Debra

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason Hillenburg

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan Bailey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Martin

  22. 5 out of 5

    R.J. Spears

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa D'Arcangelis

  24. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karol

  27. 4 out of 5

    charlie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie Coble

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris Brown

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