The hottest tracks have the deadliest rhythm
A fifteen-year-old boy firebombs a house as he listens to Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto splicing behind a red hot R ‘n’ B track.
A veteran musician is found dead in an alley with the pulse of an old time reggae classic playing in his pocket.
Rap sensation, Lord Tribulation, discovers his newfound stardom threatened when he finds himself in the middle of both incidents. His music is accused of inciting the firebombing and the dead musician is his father.
With the beat of the media and government blasting down his neck, LT’s search for the truth about his father’s death takes him back to an old flame and on the retro trail to 1976.
A time when music was politics and politics was music.
A time when the heat-drenched streets of Notting Hill burst into open rebellion.
A time that that could lead to his own murder.
Killer Tune is now available in an unabridged audio book. Narrated by Ben Onwukwe and published by Whole Story Audio Books. You can purchase this directly from the Whole Story Audio Books' website. Below you can hear a sample of Killer Tune's audio book;
Killer Tune is also available in Large Print.
It is published by W. F. Howes Ltd.
And finally Killer Tune has hit the Dutch reading market. It is fully translated into the Dutch language.
Dreda Say Mitchell confirms her position as a hot new name in crime writing with this taut novel. Elle, Read of the Year
As good as it gets….Mitchell is English fiction’s brightest new voice. Lee Child
Killer Tune is a sharply observed, incisive and moving story of radical politics, conflicting loyalties and unfinished business. Guardian
Brilliant – a gripping roller-coaster for the reader. Independent
Mitchell’s plot is elaborate but tightly played, with a backbeat of racial abuse. Killer Tune lays the breezy musical name-checking of Hornby’s High Fidelity over a well-crafted murder mystery. Financial Times
Dreda Say Mitchell is an exciting new talent and her second novel shows her distinctive take on current urban noir…The narrative throbs with energy and has a refreshing directness. Sunday Telegraph
Publishing folklore has it that second novels are generally weaker than their predecessors – not KILLER TUNE – it makes it encouragingly clear that Dreda Say Mitchell will be a figure in the crime-writing world for the foreseeable future. Times Literary Supplement.
An interesting, original novel, even if you don’t get half the references and in real life would block your ears to the noise. Literary Review
One that will be remembered from 2007... Achingly, hip, cool and all the other 'street' superlatives you can muster, it's a work of pure genius! CrimeSquad, Top 10 Book of 2007
Killer Tune is an original and intelligently crafted read that will have you gripped from start to finish. The List
Red hot. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Reviewing the Evidence
Fast-paced, multi-layered, suspense-filled and intriguing. Calabash
You can almost touch the characters they are that well-written. Angel-North Magazine
Track 1: Gasoline Ghetto, (Featuring Curtis)
On Wednesday, August 16th, Curtis stood, mp3 player in one hand, large bottle of rum in the other, in one of East London's most desirable squares. Rhodes Square was a cut through for the kids who went to the local school – the one that residents took care their Sophie and Sebastian did not go to. He faced a large Victorian house. Number 12. It stood one door down from the house with the Mercedes parked outside and two doors up from the house with a black fist as its knocker.
He moved his lanky body one step closer. The afternoon breeze brushed over his golden, teenage face. Brushed over his du-rag. The du-rag fitted the crown of his head like a silk stocking and blew loose at the back and side of his neck with the flare of a foreign legion cap. He gazed down at his mp3 player. Pulled it up, just below his chin. His thumb shifted to the side. Pressed the power button. The black screen lit up with blood-red touch-sensitive controls. His thumb glided over the screen. Found menu. Hit it. The selection bar came up.
His thumb hit ‘favourites’. The title of a single song ignited the screen.
His thumb caressed the horizontal volume strip. Bottom to top, just like when Betty Dean had taught him to French-kiss from tonsil to tip. Guaranteed max-i-mum, ear-thumping, boom-bass madness. His thumb hit ‘play’. He waited. Waited in his low-riding black-and-white-striped tracksuit for the high-rising music. He counted. One. Two. Three. Then it came. The violins from Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto, stabbing behind a red-hot, pepper-sauce R ‘n’ B beat. He waited for the singing to start. One. Two. Three. It came. A gruff, male voice with its tell-it-as-it-is street lyrics.
He shoved his mp3 player into his tracksuit pocket. Looked back up at the house. He heard no sounds coming from inside. Now was the right time to do it because he couldn’t see anyone inside the house. He used the fingers of one hand, like knitting needles, to untie his du-rag. Tugged it from his head. Tucked it under his arm. He looked at the rum bottle. Read the label.
White. Over proof. Full-strength rum.
He unscrewed the lid. Grabbed the du-rag. Held it out. Tipped some rum onto it until it turned from bone-dry black to juice-soaked jet. He screwed the lid back on to the bottle. Then he tied the alcohol-soaked du-rag around its neck.
"Could I ask about 1976?" she asked behind him.
King Stir It Up, AKA Isaiah Augustus Cleveland Scantleberry on his medical records, tensed at her question as he clutched his box of bones.
The one year he never talked about.
He stared at the panoramic view of the Victorian square across the road from his hospital window, desperately trying to think of a way to hitch a ride away from her question. His gaze settled on a young man, who stood with a bottle in his hand in front of one of the houses. The youth pulled something from his head. It looked like one of them du-rags some of the kids wore these days.
"Could I ask about 1976?" she repeated.
She wouldn't leave '76 alone.
His guest moved to stand with him in the warmth of the window. He quickly buried his box of bones into his dressing-gown pocket. Turned his head to face her. Her blonde hair was chopped down and clipped back. Nothing, including hair, was getting in this woman’s way. He caught the hope in her blue bright eyes as she stared at him. He flicked his head back towards the window. Back towards the square. Back towards the youth.
“OK, 1976. That summer…” he began, the same time the youth in the square tied the cloth in his hand around the neck of the bottle.
Curtis finished tying the du-rag. He wedged the bottle under his left arm as the music from his mp3 soaked into his body. His right hand moved to the back pocket of his trousers. He pulled out the magazine that was sticking out of it. It unfolded in his hand. It was already on the correct page. The only page he was interested in. He looked at the advertisement in the top right corner.
THE CONCERT OF THE YEAR
Wednesday 16th August
And Lord Tribulation – He's The DADDY!
The R ‘n' B backing track of the song playing on his mp3 fell silent. Just violins. Then the violins were joined by a woman's voice. Soft. Quiet. The vulnerability of her vibrato made his thoughts stop; made him taste her melody; see the face of his mother. The magazine fell from his fingers. Fluttered on to the ground. He searched in his pocket. Pulled out a lighter. He placed the bottle in his right hand. Turned his body sideways. Shifted his feet wide, but steady. Twisted his waist, so his upper body faced the house. His eyes snapped over it, searching for a target. He found it. A second-floor window. He flicked the lighter on. Held up the bottle. Lit the dripping du-rag around the bottle's neck. His hips and shoulders rotated forward. With a flourish the petrol bomb left his hand. His eyes squinted in the sun as he followed its path. Upwards. Towards the target. He stumbled back. Startled. Startled by the two unexpected young faces peering from the second floor window.
“That summer,” King Stir It Up picked up the words he'd left floating in the air, as he continued to stare out of the window. “Do you know what the killer tune was?”
“Killer tune?” she took a step, pushing her curiosity closer to him.
“The killer tune is the song everyone’s playing. Dancing to. That year’s memorable rhythm-and-bass ride. In ’76, for us black youth, it was Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves.’”
“But did anything stand out that year? Was there anything different?”
He said nothing. Just half cocked his head and watched the youth in the square pull something from his pocket.
“It was a turbulent year, wasn’t it?” Her voice was soft. Low.
“Tings got out of control,” he finally whispered, as something bright flickered in the youth’s hand.
He saw the youth touch the bright object to the cloth around the neck of the bottle. There was an instant gush of light. He moved his head forward to get a better look. Fire.
“What things?” she coaxed.
The youth pulled the bottle back. Threw it at one of the houses.
“Oh my God,” King Stir It Up yelled as his face pressed against the window.
He swung his head to face her.
“Call the police.”
Curtis took a shocked step forward as he watched the bottle sail towards the faces at the window. His arm lunged up. He knew it was too late. No way was he going to pull the bottle back. The children at the window scurried back when they saw the bottle arching towards them. The petrol bomb smashed into the glass. Dived into the room. Glass splintered and fell to the ground outside. Fell onto Curtis. Shredded into his arm and face. He closed his eyes. Heard a bang. Looked up the same time the fire started licking from the window. He heard two screams. Together. Blistering the scene like bewildered alto and soprano saxophones. That’s when he started running.
King Stir It Up watched the youth run. The tumour tightened in his gut. He shut his eyes. Tried to cut the pain out. Cut the fire out. Cut the memories of 1976 out. But he couldn’t because ‘76 had been just the same. The sounds. The fire. A youth running away. A youth that had been him. Running from a burning, dead body.