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Old Scores: A Barry Gilbert Mystery

by Scott Mackay

Old Scores is the third episode of the contemporary Toronto-based police procedural series featuring Detective Barry Gilbert. When the body of sleazy drug-addicted music agent and fixer Glen Boyd is found by a collection agent looking for five months’ back rent, Gilbert is summoned from a birthday theatre visit with his wife Regina. There he finds himself and his family embroiled in the death and their own pasts.

Boyd’s fame was at its zenith in the 1970s when he worked with such legendary bands as Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin, but his influence had gradually declined since. Both Gilbert and Regina were close to Boyd then, but Regina decamped suddenly to France with Boyd only to return later to marry Gilbert. Now Regina becomes a prime suspect in the murder, and Gilbert has to fight his superiors to stay with the case.

As might be expected with a tale set against a background of rock and roll, there are plenty of drugs, scads of possible suspects, an abundance of lowlifes, and a few incredibly trusting naifs. Ultimately, though, this is a novel for readers who prefer happy endings. The background of the case is interesting and authentic – though there’s far too much “rumbling traffic” – and the complex main plot unfolds in an interesting manner. However, the pat subplots creak under the apparent necessity of a good-news conclusion. Alas, this is not Mackay’s best work, as the plot’s credibility is often overstretched and the reader’s interest frequently flags.