by Bill Fitzhugh
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Pub Date 02 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 16 Dec 2021
Rick Shannon is an unemployed FM rock DJ considering a mid-life change in careers. But just as he begins selling off his record collection, a job offer comes from a small station in Mississippi, where a DJ recently stopped showing up for work.
No sooner than he settles into the job, Rick finds a mysterious reel of tape that just might explain what happened to the missing DJ. His curiosity piqued, Rick starts poking around and soon finds himself going down a road littered with extortion, arson, murder, and an FCC violation that makes Howard Stern look like a Cub Scout.
Before you can say "Stairway to Heaven”, Rick finds himself wading through a swamp of suspects, including a tough divorcee who rents construction equipment, a former local beauty pageant queen (Miss Tire & Auto Parts), and the president of a local personal finance company who has peculiar ideas about collateral and who just might be part of the feared Dixie Mafia.
'Hilarious – and dead on. Fitzhugh treats us to a tragicomic tour of regional black-and blues history.' New York Times
'Fast, funny, and fabulous. This is Fitzhugh's finest – and that's saying a lot!' Jill Conner Browne
'A lost-tapes mystery - all blues mysteries are lost-tapes mysteries - but unlike the rest, this pays off with a climax so rich you want to hear the tapes as much as the people hunting them down.' Greil Marcus
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 7 members
I enjoyed Radio Active, as I have all of Bill Fitzhugh’s books. This one does have some flaws, but it’s still an involving and amusing read.
Rick Shannon is a jobbing radio DJ with a passion for classic rock. He accepts, out of necessity, a job on a local radio station in a small Mississippi town, run by a thoroughly dodgy slimeball. Here he comes across a hidden tape, leading to clues about some possibly serious crimes, which he begins to investigate out of fascination. A tangled and colourful web of intrigue and suspects emerges in a well told, amusing and rather gripping story.
Fitzhugh is really good at this sort of thing; he tells a very well-structured and involving tale peopled with well drawn characters and with observations on all sorts of things including small-town politics, the corporatisation of local radio and lots about classic rock music. I’m keen on classic rock and found a lot of the references and discussions entertaining and amusing, but the lengthy monologues about music inspired by Patty Boyd or involving Todd Rundgren, for example, got a little much even for me, so if you’re not into 60s and 70s rock music this may not be the book for you. Also, having really enjoyed the book, I found the ending a little rushed and unsatisfactory – but only a little.
Those small reservations aside, I can still recommend Radio Active as a very enjoyable and entertaining read.
(My thanks to Farrago for an ARC via NetGalley.)
Dry Humour, Cutting Edge…
The first in the DJ Rick Shannon series finds the unemployed and increasingly desperate DJ seeking work. Just as he begins selling precious momentos, an offer arrives that he can’t refuse. Things begin to become most bizarre and increasingly sinister as Rick looks into the disappearance of his predecessor. An enjoyable mystery laced with dry humour and a cutting edge. A promising start to a new series.
What a fun book!
Fm DJ Rick Shannon is living the life his career has created for him, traveling from city to city, station to station, playing music until the next format change sends him on the road again. This time he ends up in small town Mississippi where he stumbles on a lost tape that he can't help investigating. Before you know it, he's surrounded by corruption, greed, and possibly his very own "Last Waltz."
It's a fun romp, Fitzhugh always makes me laugh and once again, the plot moves along at a good pace and there's even a little romantic tension.
And if Rick Shannon were a real person, I'd give him access to my Spotify account so he could curate my playlists, the songs referenced along the way brought back some fun memories
As always, a big thank you to Net Galley and Farrago books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
I've read a few books by Bill Fitzhugh, and I've enjoyed them all. They are light, enjoyable, entertaining, and funny, and this one was no exception. I have to admit, the classic rock bits got a little old for me, but if you were into classic rock, you'd probably really like that aspect of the book and know more than half the songs mentioned.
My one nitpick is why oh why did the receptionist have to be in her 20s? Rick was described to be middle aged, so I mean, couldn't the love interest be somewhat age-appropriate? Besides, Traci spoke and acted like someone older anyway, so just make her late 30s. See? Automatically less icky.
That said, I still enjoyed it! And I'd recommend it if you were looking for something light and funny with good banter. The banter was great. And.....if you didn't mind a middle-aged dude hooking up with a 20-something year old and solving a mystery with like, no wrong guesses or anything.
Thanks NetGalley for the reading copy!
Bill Fitzhugh has become one of my favorite authors! His usual funny tales are missing in this suspense filled book, but he maintains the full interest and not wanting the story to end. Rick and Traci become fast heroes in their first stint at investigation. Rick does it all with only a skillet and a tire iron! Great read!
A hilarious fictional journey through Dixie with a large cast of oddballs and larger than life weirdos, lots of verbal pyrotechnics and laughing out loud situations, welcome to
the dysfunctional world of Fitzhugh, one of the best voices in comical fiction and one of my favorite literary addictions (sadly, an incurable one as far as I'm concerned👍)
So don't wait, take a dive into the looniest fictional pool ever and let yourself go totally bonkers!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Farrago for this terrific ARC
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