Ever wish you could be a part of a world-​​famous rock band and perform at venues in cities like Paris, New York, Berlin, London? Well, okay, but without the drugs and other well-​​known and often life-​​threatening habits (or addic­tions) we hear about. Black­light is such a band, orig­i­nating in Britain and now after more than thirty years still going strong. The band members, like most of us in real life, have gotten older and, mostly, wiser. Believable? Not only believable, but with each new JP Kinkaid novel, Deborah Grabien gets better and better at carving out a lit­erary niche all her own.

If you are familiar with the JP Kinkaid Chron­icles, you know that gui­tarist JP is the char­acter who acts as anchor to this imag­i­native series of “sort of” murder mys­teries. However, JP is not a sleuthing gui­tarist. He has lots of ideas about who did what to whom, but mostly he ends up calling on San Fran­cisco detective Patrick Ormand for the serious work. Ormand is just about the only non-​​musical char­acter in the series, a kind of “reality check” character.

Reading Book of Days is like vis­iting old friends, but it’s a great read even if meeting the band for the first time. As a touring group, Bands like Black­light are not always on the road. When not on tour, the band members dis­perse, gen­erally returning to a less stressful life at home and occa­sional stints in recording studios. For JP Kinkaid and his wife Bree, home is San Fran­cisco, where Bree runs a catering business and JP plays with a mature group of musi­cians aptly named “The Fog City Geezers.” San Fran­cisco is lay-​​back time for JP, who suffers from MS and recently recovered from a very mild heart attack when per­forming in Boston.

Book of Days is a bit of a blow-​​out for the band. They’ve recently recorded a CD and as it rises to the top of the charts, their plans for a world tour begin to grow. The business side of the music industry is every bit as complex and exciting as any­thing found on Wall Street. Black­light on tour is an orga­ni­zation made up of far more than tal­ented musi­cians. Among the per­sonnel that go along on every tour are lighting crews, stage crews, security, medical staff, and a business staff that is never more than an email or cell phone away.

While on tour, one member of Blacklight’s crew dies under cir­cum­stances that do not imme­di­ately lead back to the band. It takes another death before JP begins to sense that the deaths might be con­nected. With their CD staying at the top of the charts week after week, their business manager brokers a monster of an inter­na­tional tour at some of the world’s most enviable venues tied to top dollar tickets and a hectic, whirlwind pace. Seem­ingly unre­lated deaths con­tinue to occur, but sep­a­rated by place and time. It is not until Blacklight’s security chief is killed that JP puts in a call to San Fran­cisco and makes an offer that Patrick Ormand cannot refuse.

Grabien is deft at writing a mystery in which the deaths are almost sec­ondary to the novel about aging rock stars. She is also very good at devel­oping char­acters the reader can care about. In addition to being musi­cians, they are hus­bands, wives, children. They are people who have come a long way from their years of living on the edge. Like the rest of the world, they’ve been touched by death, divorce and illness, but they have sur­vived to appre­ciate the love and ded­i­cation they have to one another. What all these char­acters have in common with the author is her love of music; music in its com­po­sition, its instru­ments, its per­for­mance, its history, and its legends.

I’m looking forward to #6 in the JP Kinkaid Chron­icles, but let’s hope Grabien gives him a well deserved rest and lets us again see the musical side of his San Fran­cisco life as she did in When My Guitar Gently Weeps, the second book in the JP Chron­icles.


  • Deb Grabien

    :::pleased author:::

    • http://www.bookinwithsunny.com Sunny

      That’s only right because the book will cer­tainly please all who read it!


Enter your email address to receive notifications of new reviews and posts by email.


Looking to buy a book?

We support inde­pendent book­stores to buy books. When shopping online, please use our affiliate links and think of us as your inde­pendent book seller and unbiased book reviewer.