If you had any connection with – or nostalgia for – the 80s heavy metal rock scene, Anthony Neil Smith’s The Drummer should be right up your dark alley. Smith writes with force and clarity, as his previous novel Psychosomatic and his work on the online crime magazine Plots With Guns indicated. The Drummer – published by a company which claims in its press release to “make more noise than a $2 radio” – is set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina and is studded with heartbreaking scenes of a cultural life which has virtually disappeared.
Calvin Christopher used to play the drums for a band called Savage Night, which had a brief but loud burst of fame and money before booze, drugs and the IRS spoiled everything. Cal decided to disappear, changing his name and hiding his cash in various overseas banks. Now, 15 years later, the band’s former lead singer tracks him down in New Orleans and seems about to convince and/or blackmail Cal into a revival tour. The singer winds up murdered in his hotel bed, and Cal has to dig through the past and present to keep from becoming the number one (with a bullet) suspect.