Rock and Roll Never Forgets: A JP Kinkaid Mystery

Overview

The last thing the members of Hall of Fame rock & roll band Blacklight need to hear is that ruthless tabloid biographer Perry Dillon is planning a tell-all history of their group. The issue hits hardest for English ex-pat guitarist JP Kinkaid; with his history of heroin addiction and deportation, his estranged wife, and his long-term relationship with a girl he met when she was a teenager, JP has the most to lose. Dealing with his multiple sclerosis doesn’t make things any ...

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Overview

The last thing the members of Hall of Fame rock & roll band Blacklight need to hear is that ruthless tabloid biographer Perry Dillon is planning a tell-all history of their group. The issue hits hardest for English ex-pat guitarist JP Kinkaid; with his history of heroin addiction and deportation, his estranged wife, and his long-term relationship with a girl he met when she was a teenager, JP has the most to lose. Dealing with his multiple sclerosis doesn’t make things any easier.

When he sits down with Dillon, JP’s main concern is to preserve both his own privacy and that of Bree Godwin, his fiercely protective longtime girlfriend. But it’s obvious from the first question that Dillon is digging deep. And he’s not planning to stop until he hits rock bottom.

Dillon’s looking for trouble, the kind of trouble that garners publicity and sells books. What he finds is the kind of trouble someone will go to any length to cover up, and that includes murder.

Opening night at Madison Square Garden encores with a corpse in JP’s dressing room, leaving Blacklight in the middle of a media frenzy—-and Bree as homicide lieutenant Patrick Ormand’s prime suspect.

Rock & Roll Never Forgets, the first JP Kinkaid mystery, offers an all-access pass to how musicians work, live, and love.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

When pseudobiographer Perry Dillon begins an unauthorized biography of the British rock group Blacklight, JP Kinkaid, who is the band's guitarist, fears that all of his and life partner Bree Godwin's secrets will be exposed. Then, during the opening of their American tour at Madison Square Garden, Dillon is murdered in Kinkaid's dressing room, and Bree becomes the first person of interest. While illustrating the behind-the-scenes business of a rock band in this series opener, musician/writer/cook Grabien, who also pens the "Haunted Ballad" series (Cruel Sister), offers a window into the life and health of a person with multiple sclerosis (read: Kinkaid). Even better, the author shows the humanity, team work, and loyalty that keep a supermusical phenomenon together. For all mystery readers who love rock'n'roll.


—Jo Ann Vicarel
School Library Journal

Adult/High School

JP Kinkaid, a member of the legendary British rock band Blacklight, is unnerved when he learns that Perry Dillon, a tabloid biographer, is writing an exposé of the group. Kinkaid has a lot of secrets he would like to remain hidden: heroin addiction, deportation, and his struggle with multiple sclerosis. His fear only escalates when Dillon turns up dead in his dressing room and his life partner, Bree Godwin, is identified as the prime suspect in the investigation. As the mystery unravels, the novel provides a behind-the-scenes look at the world of professional rock and roll, revealing the close bonds that are formed within it. As the story progresses, secrets are revealed as JP revisits his early days with Blacklight and Bree. The more that is revealed, the less trustworthy the characters are as their seemingly normal existence becomes shrouded in mystery and suspicion. The novel is reminiscent of Meg Cabot's Size 12 Is Not Fat (HarperCollins, 2006). Grabien's novel is likely to appeal to casual readers as well as those with an affinity for rock and roll.-Kelliann Bogan, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH

Kirkus Reviews
An aging rock star and his live-in lady become involved in a murder. John "JP" Kinkaid plays the guitar in Blacklight, a wildly successful British rock band with more than a passing resemblance to the Rolling Stones. Although still married to drug-addicted Cilla, he's lived for 25 years with Bree Godwin, a very private person who's supported him through drug and alcoholic addiction and a diagnosis of MS. Their good life in San Francisco is shaken up by unauthorized biographer Perry Dillon. Since Blacklight has limited Dillon's access, band members are doubly shocked when he's found murdered backstage at Madison Square Garden. Bree, who rarely goes on tours, is a person of interest to NYPD Homicide Detective Patrick Ormand because she discovered the body. The crisis forces JP to take a long look at the life he's been leading, and he doesn't like what he sees. He realizes that Bree has always supported him while he took her for granted, even returning to Cilla several times for short periods when she begged for his help. Something in the background of the other equally impure band members may be the motive for Dillon's murder. The author of the Haunted Ballad series (New-Slain Knight, 2007, etc.) comes up with something worlds apart but equally pleasing: a deft mystery nicely integrated with a fascinating backstage look at a rock star's life. Agent: Kate McKean/Howard Morhaim Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312379995
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Grabien is a cook, guitar player, cat rescuer, traveler, and all-around rocker chick. She also writes a little: She’s the author of the Haunted Ballad series and five stand-alone novels. Additionally, many of her short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies and magazines. Deborah lives in San Francisco, heads back to London and Paris whenever she can, and honestly believes you’re never too old to rock and roll.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There are days when I honestly think there’s no escape from rock and roll.

The limo from the airport had dropped me off at not quite four in the morning. The lights in the hall and the front room were on; I’d have been willing to bet that Bree hadn’t been to bed at all, hadn’t slept except for short naps. I’d also have laid odds that she’d kept the status of my flight up on her computer in the kitchen alcove, tracking it as it made its way across the Atlantic and over Canada.

By the time I’d hit the bottom stair, she was waiting for me at the top, with the door open and the cats wreathing around her ankles. This, Bree within touching distance, was what I’d been looking forward to, consciously jonesing for, for at least a week; she’d welcomed me back off the road so many times over the last twenty-five years that this homecoming had the feel of an old bathrobe, something you slip into because it’s so comfy. Coming home to Bree, it always feels like that, you know?

This time was no different. First words out of her mouth— after I’d dropped the guitars and kissed her for about three minutes, and after she got her breath back—were an announcement that there would be nothing happening before noon. I thought about teasing her over it, she sounded so fierce, but I was too tired and too dragged down. She kissed me again, fussed over me as if she’d been ten years my senior instead of eleven years my junior, fed me some light gorgeous soup and homemade bread and my nighttime meds, and even managed not to ask how I was feeling. Once I put the spoon down, she had me upstairs, into bed, and unconscious.

I’ve known Bree since she was a dewy-eyed teenager. That’s a quarter-century of knowing, and she’s always been the wrong person to argue with. Besides, she’s so often right, especially about what masquerades as my health, that I usually do what she tells me and I don’t go on about it. I don’t lie to her about what my health is doing, either. My old lady can be fierce, when the spirit moves her. I find it’s a lot easier to be up-front with her, and avoid pissing her off.

Problem is, even Bree can’t control the outside world, though it’s not for lack of trying. So when my cell phone rang at twenty of nine the next morning, she’d got it and taken it into the hallway, ready to verbally rip whoever was calling this early a new one, before I could get my eyelids unglued.

It was just as well, since ungluing the lids was likely to take a while. I don’t do mornings very well in any case; I don’t mean to go on about the MS, but it’s worst during that first hour of the day. I’ve tried telling Bree that it’s just nature’s way of reminding me to take my morning pain meds, but she doesn’t seem to find that funny.

This morning was worse than usual. Jet lag’s always a drag, but it’s a lot worse coming late to early in time zones; San Francisco to Europe, I take a nap and my body adjusts, but this direction, it’s just bloody miserable. Makes it tricky for a touring musician, you know?

I lay in bed for a few minutes, eyes closed, feeling sunlight coming in through the bay windows, and trying to pinpoint where the biggest problems of the day were likely to be. Sole of the right foot, I decided; it was tingling and wanting to cramp.

I flexed both legs, nice and slow, trying to be careful, keep the stabs at bay; that didn’t work very well, and I bit back noise. Right quad, bloody hell, shit, that was going to be a drag—the entire muscle was yelling, and those are big muscles, the quad-riceps. The hands, mercifully, seemed fine. It’s not easy being a guitar player with a disease that can take all the sensation from your fingers without prior notice. To night I was due for my weekly shot, the drug that keeps me out of a wheelchair, and that was completely cocked up already, what with my internal clock thinking it was eight hours ahead and still on London time.

It was right around then that I finally started paying attention to Bree’s voice, drifting in through the closed bedroom door. There was a familiar note in it, exasperation, but more than that—it was mixed up with something else.

"… Carla, why the hell …" Silence. I could almost imagine the staccato rapping of Carla Fanucci, Blacklight’s imported–from–New York publicity handler and American operations manager. Bree’s voice came again, this time with something new in it—anger, or disbelief, maybe. "… biographer? No, he didn’t say anything to me, not a damned word. Of course I’m sure! Carla, I don’t know what you’re talking about! You want John to do what? No way. No. I said, no. Not a chance in hell he’s going to—no, I really don’t care whether—"

Silence, this time far too long. Bree, woken too early or, worse yet, thinking I’d been woken too early, would be quiet this long only if something was wrong. And Carla, well, if Carla was demanding I do something and ringing up this early to say so, it had to be something major. She knew just how late I’d got to bed last night.

I got to the door just as Bree was opening it. The brief push-me pull-you would have been funny, if the look on her face hadn’t killed any desire to laugh. She had this bleached, lost look on her face, and I felt my own stomach knot up; Bree only ever looked that way when one particular subject was on the table. That subject’s name is Cilla. I’m married to her.

"Here." Bree handed me the phone, not meeting my eye. Her mouth was twisted down tight. Shit. She was swallowing tears; Bree doesn’t cry in front of me, never has done. This had to be something huge. What in hell could Carla have said?

"Bree? …"

"It’s for you." Bree’s voice was bleak. "Carla. Something about a biography, a personal history of the band. She says you know all about it, and that it’s important, and that it can’t wait. Here. Take it, please."

I opened my mouth to answer, to say Look, love, I haven’t got a clue what you’re on about, but I didn’t get the chance. She turned on her heel and went, heading down to the kitchen. I heard water running: coffee? Filling the cats’ dishes? Trying to smother the sound of crying? I stayed where I was. Bree wouldn’t thank me for intruding right now.

"JP? Are you there?"

"Yeah." Her voice was a bit sharper than usual. So was mine. "Yeah, I’m here. Bloody hell. I didn’t get home until four this morning, Carla—you already know that. The European tour ended yesterday, remember? What ever this is about, couldn’t it have waited a few hours?"

"Sorry." That was bollocks. She wasn’t sorry. This was her job, and she was damned good at it. "But no, this really couldn’t wait. And what do you mean, what ever this is about? It’s about this biography. I wouldn’t have dragged you out of bed this early for anything else."

"What biography?" I was dizzy, a bit off, and my jaw was tingling. That was typical for not enough sleep, but it was also an indicator that I might want to start thinking about bracing myself for an exacerbation of the MS. Not a good sign. "What are you on about?"

"Oh, damn." Her voice had changed. "I called Ian about this yesterday—you guys were onstage playing. He was supposed to tell the entire band about it. No wonder Bree’s so pissed off. I’m sorry, JP. Ian did say he’d tell everyone."

"Yeah, well, what ever it is, Ian didn’t tell me. Maybe he told everyone else, but this is the first I’ve heard about a biography. Telling the entire band, was he? Have I been given the sack from Blacklight and no one’s told me yet?"

For some reason, I was feeling pissy, right at the edge of being insulted. If that was what Stu and Cal had been looking unhappy about after the gig last night, Ian had had plenty of time to fill me in before I left, and he hadn’t done it.

Carla picked up on it, of course. She’s razor-sharp, that girl is, but she’d have had to be completely dim not to suss out that my silence was because I was narked as hell and didn’t want to snap at her.

"You must have left for Heathrow before he had it together." Her tone had changed again. "Damn. Sorry, JP. I really didn’t mean to cause a situation here. I assumed you knew about it already. To be fair to Ian, I sort of dumped it on him in mid-gig, and he had a lot of stuff going on. I’m really sorry. Apologise to Bree for me, will you?"

"Yeah, I will. Look, hang on a moment, will you, please?" I covered the phone and gave in to a jaw-cracking yawn. "Sorry, I’m dead on my feet. Okay. Since Ian didn’t tell me, maybe you’d better do it. What’s all this about, Carla?"

"There’s an unofficial biography and history of the band in the works. I got the early word yesterday." I could hear her sucking down air. "The guy writing it? Perry Dillon."

"Shit!"

Bree’s reaction—that miserable lost look of hers, her silence, her refusal to meet my eye—had suddenly become entirely appropriate to a simple phone call. There were biographers, and then there was Perry Dillon.

"Perry Dillon." I sat down hard. "The same bloke who writes all those knife-in-the-ribs exposé books? The one every-one’s afraid to turf off the premises when he slithers in, because they’re afraid of his tactics once they can’t keep an eye on him? That Perry Dillon?"

"That’s the only Perry Dillon I know about." This time, Carla actually did sound almost apologetic. "You get now why I woke you up? Sorry it upset Bree, JP. I wasn’t trying to. But we need to tackle this, like, now. We have to decide just how we’re going to handle it. This guy isn’t going to just go away. I was hoping you’d have a few ideas of your own about it, but I guess I’m the bad-news girl on this one."

"Jesus." This was a hell of a way to wake up, having to try to wrap my head around the idea of Blacklight being targeted by Perry Dillon, a world-class sleaze making million-dollar advances off "histories" that were at least half full of every unsubstantiated rumour the man could find.

What a mess. No wonder Bree was downstairs in the kitchen, crying. This was going to be ugly, if the bloke couldn’t be handled properly. "Carla, please tell me you haven’t told him I was willing to talk to him. You haven’t, right?"

"I haven’t told him anything at all, JP. He hasn’t called me yet. I got this one nice and early, strictly backchannel, which is why I called Ian as soon as I confirmed the rumour. It’s also why I took the chance and woke you up, and no, by the way, I haven’t forgotten what time you got home. I’m the one who booked your flight back from London, remember? The thing is …"

"… you want to get to him before he gets to us. That it?" I got off the bed, trying to shake the needles and cramps out of my feet. No good—the body was doing its own thing. I went and sat in Bree’s rocking chair.

"Of course. Grab the offensive first, and maybe we can get some control on the spin. If we can spike the bastard’s guns, I say we do it. But …" Her voice trailed away. I knew what she wasn’t saying.

"But, I’m the one most affected. What with having hooked up with Bree when she was technically too young to be with me legally, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Wouldn’t want Perry Dillon making me out to be a statutory rapist. And of course, there’s my bloody wife, and my drug bust, and the fact that I was deported. And, since I’m me and not Mac, I actually give a shit about hanging on to some privacy, what with Bree being damned near pathological about it. So I’m the first one you rang. Of course. Right. Got it."

I honestly didn’t think my voice came out any different, but I could almost hear Carla flinch. "JP, look—"

"No, you’re right." Of course she was right; she was brilliant at her job. That’s why Blacklight—the corporate entity rather than merely five dinosaurs who’d toured sold-out venues all over the world for thirty years—paid her such a spectacular salary. I was seriously tempted to have a few pointed words with Ian, though; for some reason, his not including me in that "entire band" thing was rankling more than it should. "Not your fault. You’re right, we need to deal with it. What do you want me to do?"

She told me. A few minutes later, I clicked the phone off, took a very fast shower and my morning meds, got dressed, and went downstairs. I’m being honest here: I didn’t much want to. Bree gets upset about very few things in this world, but there was no way I could pretend that the situation, at least the way Carla’d spun it, was going to be anything other than miserable.

She was in the kitchen, surrounded by cats. Our senior cat, Wolfling, was curled up in her lap. For all that I’d rescued him as a tiny tabby kitten from a shoe box at the local market, he’d become Bree’s self-appointed comforter over the past ten years. Her Siamese queen, Farrowen, was on the table, her tail curling around the bottom of Bree’s coffee mug; right now, she was staring at me, not blinking, making me feel guilty. Our teenaged moggy, Simon, ignored us both. He was busy chasing dust motes.

"Do you want breakfast?"

Her voice was neutral. Damn. I knew what that careful tone of hers meant: She’d already decided to bite the bullet and make it easy for me, which effectively meant I couldn’t bring it up with her. Of course, if I went along with it and let her make it easy for me, I’d lose all right to deal with any of the fallout. As nice as it is having her smooth my path, there are times when I’d like to thump her.

"Bree, listen—"

"You should eat," she told me. Same damned flat uninflected tone. "I’ll make you some breakfast."

"Sod breakfast." I perched on the edge of the table. "Look, love, I don’t want to make light of this, all right? And no, I didn’t know a damned thing about it until Carla told me. She rang Ian about it last night, probably while we were in the middle of the show closer, and he didn’t bother telling me before I left for Heathrow. And believe me, I’m planning on having a few choice words with the lad. Anyway, Carla wants to try to minimise the damage before this bloke ever gets started. Thing is—"

"I know. Fat chance. Believe me, I know." Her face had gone stony. She was putting up her usual Brave Little Woman walls, and kicking them down was going to take as much energy as dealing with Perry Dillon. Bloody hell, why couldn’t she understand she was making it harder for me, not easier?

She was also refusing to meet my eyes, and that was worrying. Bree has very few feelings that I can’t read in her face, but she wasn’t letting me see her face, and that meant there were things she wanted to keep hidden. "I do get it, John. Is there any way at all you can at least demand some control over what questions he asks?"

"Haven’t got a clue, love. We can try, and we will, you know that. I trust Carla to put the hammer down about what’s off-limits. Whether it works …" I leaned over, ignoring protest from my jet-lagged muscles, and laid my cheek against her hair. I can’t do that unless she’s sitting—she’s nearly two inches taller than I am. "I’m sorry, Bree. I’ll do my best to keep this from getting out of hand. We’ll get through it."

"You think so?" She looked up at me finally, and I felt my heart stutter a bit, the beat accelerating, trying to catch up and stay even. I’ve got a heart condition, something the doctors call arrhythmia, which means my heart does these bizarre little speed-ups. Some days, I felt like I was keeping the local casualty ward—the emergency room, right, I was a California resident now, not a Londoner anymore—in business.

I met Bree’s eye. Her own were remote; something about the way the muscles of her face were working, I could see the pain.

Maybe she’d sensed that bit of heart action, because she tried for a lighter note. "We could sic Mac’s bodyguard on him."

"She’d probably love that." The picture of Domitra wiping the floor with a shadowy Perry Dillon—using every one of her martial arts skills and maybe a few bits of weaponry just for a lark—was too lovely to pass up. "Hell, I’d love that. I’d do it in a heartbeat. Bree, listen. This Dillon bloke, he’s in Los Angeles at the moment. That means I’m up first—it’ll be down in Carla’s office. I’ll ask once, and only once: Do you want to be there when I talk to him?"

"No!" It was pain, all right, and maybe panic, too. "Dear God, how could you think I’d even consider being there? Twenty-five years together, you don’t know me better than that? That’s not what I want at all."

"Then what do you want?" Here we went again, Bree with the walls that were supposed to protect me, and all they ever did was keep me out. "Tell me what you want."

She got up, too fast; Wolfling slid off her lap onto the floor.

"Invisibility," she told me quietly, and left me standing there.

Two days later, walking into Blacklight’s Los Angeles offices, I was already edgy.

It wasn’t just the prospect of the interview with Perry Dillon that was worrying me. I’d flown down from San Francisco the night before, still jet-lagged and achy as hell. I’d also come down without Bree. She’d opted to stay home entirely.

That surprised me, and it worried me, as well. Bree loves L.A., the shops and restaurants, the feel of the city itself. We’d been there a few times together, when I was doing California tours with my pickup band, the Fog City Geezers, and she always has a good time.

So I’d expected her to come down and wander around while I was working, the way she always did. Instead, she’d muttered something about not being able to find someone to watch the cats. That was complete rubbish. We were only going to be gone a day and a night and anyway, we’ve got a bloke called Sammy who keeps house for us when we’re on the road. But it was obvious she didn’t want to be within a hundred miles of this interview, and I hadn’t pushed her. That comment of hers—that she wanted to be invisible—had planted itself in my head, and it was sitting there, next to my own pissiness at Ian. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling.

Excerpted from Rock & Roll Never Forgets by Deborah Grabien.

Copyright © 2008 by Deborah Grabien.

Published in 2008 by St. Martin’s Press

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    an engaging amateur sleuth concert

    Legendary British rock band Blacklight is performing in New York City. Odious slimy reporter Perry Dillon tries to force the band¿s renowned guitarist John ¿JP¿ Kincaid into an interview JP prefers the ahole leave him alone even as Dillon snidely states he will write a revealing biography of the band¿s members. Soon after JP tells Dillon to stick it, the writer is found dead in the guitarist¿s dressing room.-------- NYPD suspects JP's girlfriend Bree Godwin committed the homicide to shut Dillon up as the insidious reporter claimed to have information that will expose the scandalous behavior of JP, Bree, and the musician¿s estranged wife Cilla. NYPD Lieutenant Patrick Ormand leads the inquiry while JP looks back at a quarter of a century performing with the world¿s greatest rock and roll band at times in a drug stupor in order to figure out what Dillon had on them hoping that will lead to the motive and subsequently the killer.--------------- Dillon turns this interesting whodunit into an engaging amateur sleuth concert, as he rock and rolls his investigation while Ormand sees the superstar and his retinue as the prime suspect. Character driven with plenty of musical references, Deborah Grabien provides her audience with a three beat tale that is fun to read as Dillon does it his way.-------- Harriet Klausner

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