Record Store Reckoning by J.C. Kenney

Title: Record Store Reckoning (A Darcy Gaughan Mystery #1)

Author: J.C. Kenney

Published on: 1 March 2022

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Darcy Gaughan is an ex-musician turned manager of Marysburg Music. She returns from her vacation expecting things to be as usual at her workplace. She’s also five years sober and super proud of her journey so far. The store she works at is gearing up for the Record Store Day celebrations and nothing can ever go wrong in Darcy’s life. Or, can it?

Darcy walks to the store on her first-day-at-work-after-vacation to find her boss, Eddie Maxwell, lying dead in his office. She calls the local cops and they conclude Eddie died from a self-inflicted wound. Eddie and suicide? Nah, Darcy doesn’t think so. After all, a collectors edition of The Beatles is missing from the store. The local cops are convinced Eddie killed himself so it is up to Darcy to find her mentor, teacher and boss’ killer.

Record Store Reckoning is the series debut in J.C. Kenney’s A Darcy Gaughan Mystery series. Vinyl, vintage music, jazz and a whole lot of sleuthing, Record Store Reckoning is a smashing cozy series debut.

The story begins with Darcy being back from her vacation and ready to go to work. It is just another morning – feeding her tomcat Ringo, drinking tea (Darcy, not the cat) and celebrating her five years of sobriety. Darcy has come a long way – she was a drummer for a music band named Pixie Dust. Booze, highly stressful environment and no control over life – until, Darcy injured her elbow and was told she couldn’t play the drums anymore. Her life took a turn for worse during recovery when Darcy began to rely more and more on alcohol to numb her pain. Her bandmates left her and her parents did not support her either.

She moved to Marysburg, restarted her life – which wasn’t possible if not for her friends Eddie, Liam and Jenna. Eddie owned Marysburg Music and Darcy started working there soon after her recovery/rehab. Fast forward to the present, Darcy is in the store and finds Eddie’s office door open. When she walks in, she finds him dead. She calls the cops and there goes Darcy’s five-years-of-sobriety celebrations!

Eddie was full of life so it is hard for Darcy to believe he killed himself. A collectible edition of The Beatles has gone missing from the store. Darcy decides to investigate – maybe the missing item and Eddie’s murder are related…

As a first in the series, this book has the perfect combination of setting the scene for the series, character introduction, and mystery. If you are a music lover like me, you would find this book entertaining – after all, there are mentions of music of all genres – from classic jazz to modern pop. I felt there was just one thing missing in the mentions – Queen. I am a huge fan of Freddie Mercury and would have loved to see a mention or two of his songs.

The mystery behind the murder kept me guessing till the end. Red herrings are plenty and it is easy for a reader to be lost in the plethora of ‘herrings’ and ‘wrong directions.’ Halfway through the story, everybody in town learns of Darcy’s “little investigation.” You know what this means? The killer too knows of her investigation…

Speaking of the killer, their identity was surprising and unexpected. They were hardly in the suspects list so I wasn’t ready to accept them as the perp. Um… I did not see this coming and somehow not very happy with the conclusion. (Hence the 4 starred rating.)

Overall, this was an entertaining and interesting cozy mystery. Consider me impressed! I am looking forward to knowing what’s next for Darcy. If you love cozy mysteries and music, you might want to add Record Store Reckoning by J.C. Kenney to your reading list.

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