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#BookReview of Death in Fine Condition by Andrew Cartmel

  22 Apr 2024 |    3 minutes  |   Paul Mitchell

Book Cover of Death in Fine Condition by Andrew Cartmel

Title:  Death in Fine Condition
Author:  Andrew Cartmel
Date Published:  6 Jun, 2023
Genre:  Mystery & Thriller
Publisher:  Titan Books (UK)
ISBN:  978-1789098945
Series:  The Paperback Sleuth #1
Pages:  336
Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


(Blurb for Death in Fine Condition from Goodreads) Launching a new series, a cast of lovable rogues face fiendish puzzles and murderous villains in this love letter to Agatha Christie murder mysteries and classic whodunnits.

Introducing a new series from the creator of the beloved, bestselling Vinyl Detective novels.

Cordelia knows books. An addict-turned-dealer of classic paperbacks, when she’s not spending her days combing the charity shops and jumble sales of suburban London for valuable collector’s items, she’s pining for the woman of her dreams and nimbly avoiding her landlord’s demands for rent.

The most elusive prize of all, her white whale, has surfaced — a set of magnificent, vintage Sleuth Hound crime novels. Gorgeous, and as rare as they come. Just one problem. They’re not for sale. Still, that won’t stop a resourceful woman like Cordelia… One burglary later, the books are hers. Unfortunately, the man she’s just robbed turns out to be one of London’s most dangerous gangsters, and now he’s on her trail and out for blood.

Cordelia’s best laid plans to pay the rent and woo the object of her affections start to fall apart, and she realises she may have placed herself in the crosshairs of a villain torn straight from the pages of her treasured novels.

My Review

Now I’m a big fan of The Vinyl Detective series by Andrew Cartmel, so when I saw that he’d written a new series called The Paperback Sleuth, starting with Death in Fine Condition, I just had to get a copy.

The story centres around Cordelia Stanmer, who buys and sells classic paperback books. To say that she’s a little unscrupulous is a bit of an understatement as she goes to any length to make a profit. From ambushing the book fair at her local church to writing over owner inscriptions making the books seem more valuable. She even goes as far as stealing a set of vintage Sleuth Hound crime novels, although the person she took them from is seriously dangerous.

So, Cordelia took a fountain pen-up until now she’d borrowed Edwin’s-and painstakingly wrote over the price-lowering inscription, rewriting it, lovingly following its contours, saturating the old skeleton of the handwriting, until it looked like it had always been written in fountain pen.

And suddenly, voila, the book was back up to its full market value

Cross Over

I didn’t realise when I bought the book that Death in Fine Condition crossed over with the Vinyl Detective world. I love this concept when I watch TV shows, and it works really well in this story. Jordan Tinkler makes an appearance as a sort of love interest for Cordelia, he’s not as full-on in this as he is in other books, which is a blessing. Agatha Dubois-Kanes, referred to as The Woman is also in this story and is secretly adored by Cordelia. Stinky Stanmer is Cordelia’s brother and there’s no love lost between them. He seems to annoyingly turn up at her home when she’s least expecting it and cause havoc.

Character-wise, I didn’t warm to Cordelia initially. She’s not the most loveable, and some of her antics made me feel at times that whatever happened to her would probably be deserved. She did however grow on me as the story progressed. Edwin, her landlord is an odd one with some hidden character flaws to say the least, but I thought he was brilliant!

Final Thoughts

I thought Death in Fine Condition was a great fun book, with moments of comedy and suspense with some great characters. I’m already looking forward to reading the next instalment of The Paperback Sleuth. If you like or are a fan of The Vinyl Detective series, then this will be right up your street.


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