What a little gem AMPLIFY turned out to be. A debut novel from journalist Mark Hollands, introducing musical impresario Billy Lime and his world of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
So much potential for cliché so very nicely dodged here. The women are not all sex objects or madder than meat-axe fans, the rock and roll is slightly on the older and might not be quite up to it any more side, the muso's an interesting combination of old and wise, and still living the dream types. Then there's the daring deeds of Lime himself liberally laced with martial arts, some aches and pains, and a hefty dose of clever humour.
The plot is cleverly interwoven into the corporate music world and takes advantage of a tax investigation of highly suspect intent, an international rock tour, a well known identity in Lime, and some decidedly Bolshie female managers of his various businesses to pull everybody and everything into the mix nicely. The characters are all strong, with nuance in unexpected places, and no daft lapses into fem-jep, or any other annoyances. There are a few lowlights that you're just going to have to accept as part of the rough and tumble of biker gang / jail / threatening behaviour all of which made sense in the context - if not purely in terms of justice.
There's lots of laugh out loud moments along the way - with plenty of in jokes to be found in Billy Lime's name, his choice of car colour and his business activities. AMPLIFY is tightly paced, with no extraneous information along the way and the character development and background is built elegantly into the overall pace and fun of the thing.
Slightly from the more manic, light-hearted side of crime fiction, despite the seriousness of the scenario's played out, there's an awful lot to like about AMPLIFY. Certainly enough to be on the lookout for a follow-up.