But this tape wasn’t for me. It had a Binghamton postmark and was addressed to my downstairs neighbor, KitKat. She was a party on a purple ten-speed, a neat-banged brunette who baked red velvet cupcakes and pot brownies, read tarot, and had both an NES and a Sega Genesis.
Jett Bennett heads downstairs to hand a package delivered to her by mistake to its intended recipient, her neighbor, KitKat. Instead, she finds KitKat sprawled on the kitchen floor and a bloody rolling pin in the sink. KitKat’s suddenly hard-to-find boyfriend, Bronco, quickly becomes the prime suspect, but Jett is convinced the cops have the wrong person. Unable to ignore her gut feeling, and prodded by KitKat’s grieving sister to find the real killer, Jett starts poking around on her own using the only lead available: KitKat’s package, a mysterious mixtape sent by an unknown sender with the initials GPL.
- The mixtape theme rocks. Anyone who has ever made or received a mixtape will relate to the myriad of emotions the music on one could bring. Elation, anxiety, happiness, regret…the process of deciphering the meaning behind each song and its placement in the mix was an experience which, as Jett points out, can’t be duplicated by today’s digital playlists.
- Jett. Some readers might find her overly flawed or wishy-washy but, for me, this made her completely real. As someone who’s been there, done that I could relate to her lack of direction and insecurities. The growth of Jett’s character is there, but it’s subtle. For most of the book, Jett is in that weird “finding myself” stage, where she isn’t quite sure who she is or how she fits into the world. KitKat’s murder leads her to reflect on the choices she’s made in her own life, and fully comprehend their consequences.
Cudmore’s debut is somewhat perplexing. The hipster elements mean anyone not familiar with the subculture will tackle a slight learning curve to follow the narrative. The mystery is a side plot, really nothing more than the impetus for Jett’s emotional reexamination of her past loves. The storyline takes a few odd dips towards absurdity, and most of the supporting characters are superficial props used to move the action forward. There is also, for some reason, quite a bit of disdain for Billy Joel. Yet there is a sparkle of something I can’t quite pinpoint in The Big Rewind that pulled me through to the end. Short chapters make saying “just one more” extremely easy and Cudmore’s writing is entertaining. In the end, The Big Rewind is a promising—but far from perfect—debut and I am looking forward to reading Cudmore’s sophomore effort.
Recommended for readers looking for a quirky mix of mystery, music, and angst.