Last Songbird, The, By Daniel Weizmann, 337 pgs.

Jul 21, 2023

Daniel Weizmann’s The Last Songbird is the story of a Lyft driver thrust into the role of reluctant detective when his favorite client, an iconic ’70s songwriter, is brutally murdered. If that name rings a bell—and it should—that’s because Daniel Weizmann is the birth name of former Flipside columnist and punk rock force of nature Shredder. I don’t think the words “punk rock” are ever mentioned in The Last Songbird but a good chunk takes place in Hermosa Beach and there are a few Easter eggs for the faithful to tease out. Even if you’re not clued into the lore of South Bay punk, The Last Songbird is a ripping-good story that is also a humorous but heartfelt rumination on what it means to make art the world doesn’t value. The set-up ensures that the story is always moving, the characters always going places. The Last Songbird is everything you want from a contemporary mystery and the novel even bears an affinity to Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Since it’s being billed as “A Pacific Coast Highway Mystery,” here’s hoping we’ll have a second installment soon. –Jim Ruland (Melville House)