A gritty, fast-paced neo-noir that explores the consumptive nature of fame, celebrity, and motherhood through the lens of a driver lost in the gig economy.
A struggling songwriter and Lyft driver, Adam Zantz’s life changes when he accepts a ride request in Malibu and 1970s music icon Annie Linden enters his dented VW Jetta. Bonding during that initial ride, the two quickly go off app— over the next three years, Adam becomes her exclusive driver and Annie listens to his music, encouraging Adam even as he finds himself driving more often than songwriting.
Then, Annie disappears, and her body washes up under a pier. Left with a final, cryptic text— ‘come to my arms’— a grieving Adam plays amateur detective, only to be charged as accomplice-after-the-fact. Desperate to clear his name and discover who killed the one person who believed in his music when no one else in his life did, Adam digs deep into Annie’s past, turning up an old guitar teacher, sworn enemies and lovers, and a long-held secret that spills into the dark world of a shocking underground Men’s Rights movement. As he drives the outskirts of Los Angeles in California, Adam comes to question how well he, or anyone else, knew Annie— if at all.
The Last Songbird is a poignant novel about love, obsession, the price of fame and the burden of broken dreams, with a shifting, twisting plot that's full of unexpected turns.
Intriguing, engrossing and entertaining. My reading mojo has vanished of late, but this one from Daniel Weizmann has gotten me back on the right path.
We have a captivating murder mystery in which the main character, a washed up, failed musician, Adam Zante investigates the death of his employer-cum-'friend', the 70s musical icon, Annie Linden. Zante spends as much time discovering who Linden was, as he does trying to unravel the circumstances of her death.
While he digs, Weizmann had this reader musing on the meaning of family, from both the perspective of our victim and the investigator, and by extension what it means to myself. The whole gamut of emotions are explored.... love, pain, regret, mistakes, callousness, indifference, anger, secrets, power dynamics, pettiness, punishment, connectivity and ties and bonds or the lack thereof and memories.
As well as an opportunity to indulge in some reflective naval gazing, Weizmann had me invested in discovering who did what and why. Zante's drip-fed discoveries, the little information nuggets were exposed credibly and had me believing in his abilities as a decent sleuth. I have my fingers crossed that Weizmann may have more Adam Zante books in the pipeline.
There's jeopardy in our main player's his quest. He is attacked and threatened several times, as are some of the other parties, who are privy to some of Linden's confidences. So there is some violence, another fatality and a level of danger and action which ramps up the stakes a little bit more, before a fitting concusion.Overall I really enjoyed this one. It had all the ingredients I like in a book. Pace, plot, a sympathetic main character, a decent setting and a believable outcome.
4.5 stars from 5
Read - May, 2023
Published - 2023
Page count - 336
Source - review copy from publisher, Melville House
Format - paperback ARC