The Big Rewind

The Big Rewind is a murder mystery set among New York’s plugged-in media crazy hipsters. You could argue that hipster is an obsolete term. How else to describe these urban dwellers who call themselves rewinders? They acquire and discard lovers casually. They express their serial affection by creating “mix tapes” as personal gifts. These are sequences of pop songs home-recorded on tape cassettes. (What, no 8-tracks?) The intent is for the lyrics to express the fondness of an otherwise inarticulate lover. Reader warning:Could they possibly communicate other emotions, far removed from love?

Our protagonist, Jett Bennett, aspires to be a music journalist but works as a proofreader for a law firm. She discovers her neighbor across the hall, KitKat, with her head bashed in and quite dead. By a fluke, one of the mix tapes intended for KitKat arrives in Jett’s mailbox. This audio tape becomes a vital clue promising a solution to the mystery. Who sent it?

By default, Jett becomes a detective. Careful to suppress the fact that she discovered the body, she eventually unmasks the killer whose identity is effectively kept secret until the end.

Describing the contents of one mix, Jett rattles off a few titles from which the following is merely a small tidbit. “Because it was the late nineties: the gag-worthy ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ by Savage Garden; Faith Hill’s dippy ‘This Kiss’; the 10,000 Maniacs version of ‘Because the Night’; and ‘2 Became 1’; because he’s had an irrational love for all things Spice Girls.” And so on and so on.

The kinds of lists occur on almost every page of The Big Rewind. The main characters actually converse this way. In fact, this is the real theme of the novel. These people live in a world of white noise, amped up music and lyrics that form the aural tapestry of their lives. No wonder murder occasionally results. Romance and life itself are transitory.

The Big Rewind is Libby Cudmore’s first novel. She has published short stories in obscure counter-culture journals and has worked part-time in video stores, bookshops, and temp agencies, very much like her character, Jett. Despite the constant jive spoken by everyone, The Big Rewind is, at its core, a classic murder mystery, and fans of Hammett, Chandler, and Woolrich should enjoy it. I did. – Dan Erwine

The Big Rewind is Libby Cudmore’s debut novel.

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