A Hard Day's Death, Review

Filed under: Raymond Benson,Reviews on Aug 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I have a pretty long list of books to read and one that I’ve had near the top for awhile is A Hard Day’s Death by Raymond Benson. It’s got a pretty good premise about a private investigator who specifically takes on cases in the world of rock n’ roll. It’s actually a pretty brilliant idea, it just requires an author who’s got a love and knowledge of the business. Benson surely is that. His love of music, specifically (roughly) late 60’s and 70s rock (i.e., classic rock), clearly shows on just about every page. The table of contents reads like an album’s track list and each chapter is titled after a song (e.g., A Hard Day’s Night – performed by The Beatles). Throw in a guy best known for thriller books like James Bond, Splinter Cell, and Metal Gear Solid, and you got the ingredients for an entertaining hit.

The story involves an old classic rocker by the name of Flame. This guy is pretty huge in the world of rock n’ roll, once jamming with the likes of John Lennon and David Bowie and having two successful bands of his own as well as a solo career before going into rehab and coming out a reformed man. Now Flame is doing religious music and everyone isn’t too happy which ultimately leads to his demise. So it goes. The problem is practically everyone in the book is a suspect from former bandmates, to family, to producers to a rock n’ roll gang, to even a religious cult that operates out of Jamaica. They all have motive and many, given Flame was kind of an ass, didn’t even give a damn that the guy died. This leads to the introduction of the protagonist, Spike Berenger. He’s 50, he’s been in the world of rock n’ roll as both a musician and a producer, and he’s even dated Flame’s first wife, but now he’s a private investigator in New York City where the story mostly takes place. He’s got his own security firm filled with a number of other investigators with specific specialties and it’s really up to them to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and solve the case.

A Hard Day’s Death is a damn good read and a real page turner. I quite enjoyed it, though I must say that while I was really into it, the ending wasn’t as great as I would have liked. The problem is Spike being an actual private investigator for about 80% of the book then the final 20% becoming something more, something like a watered-down James Bond. I hate to say it. The book just didn’t feel like an action book at all, but that’s where it eventually went. Nothing too wrong with that, I guess. All in all though, A Hard Day’s Death is a thrilling and unique read. I could say that those that dig music a lot will really take to it, and that’s probably true, but I don’t really consider myself one of those – not like Benson, and I enjoyed it. So there you go.

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