Arc of a Shooting Star by Simon Northouse is Book One of a Shooting Star Series. The series name is a pleasant play on words for the Shooting Tsars, a successful music group from a decade earlier. The band was wildly successful artistically but far less successful financially due to a cleverly written contract that disguised legalized robbery. The group disbanded after a five-year run because of a contract dispute that went to the courts. The band lost the court case and there were huge financial settlements the group members had to pay. The taxman never sleeps. After five years on the road, many of the group members were tired of being around each other; each group member went his own way. Some got jobs, there was one convert to Christianity, one went on the dole, and Will, singer and glue of the team, assumed the life of a country gentleman.
After ten years Will got a call from Chas, the manager that had profited from the contract that nearly bankrupted some group members. Claiming that it was all a misunderstanding about the earlier contact, Chas was offering Will an opportunity to pull the group back together and go on a Resurrection Tour. All members of the group; Will, Robbo, Flaky, and Geordie (Allan) harbored serious resentment of Chas; no one believed his protestations of innocence. But the money Chas offered, two hundred thousand USD per member for a thirteen-week tour, was tempting enough that Will agreed to try and get the band back together. Because everyone detested Chas, there was an automatic, knee jerk reaction of refusal by other group members to go on tour.
There are many other obstacles to overcome if this tour is to get off the ground. Flaky, a born again Christian, vegan, and exercise advocate no longer leads the lifestyle of earlier times. And he doesn’t want to be around people who smoke, use drugs, or drink. Robbo seems to have an entire cadre of drug suppliers living in his clothing, he seems to never be “straight.” Geordie is a typical anarchist, any rule for anything is to be broken to his will. That includes religion which puts him in conflict with Flaky. But Geordie’s aunt, a mother figure, is close to death and is about to be evicted from her home of more than fifty years. Geordie, on the dole, has no other skills that could earn him the money the tour will bring in. Robbo has never given up his love of music as his collection of instruments shows. The band members will attempt to work out all these issues, get through the tour, and successfully wrest their fees from Chas.
I am not a roadie or a groupie and this would not be a selection I would normally read. But I read an earlier teaser from this author, liked the writing style, and wanted to read more work from the author. I was not disappointed. I have fun when reading English written in such a “proper” way, in other words, from England. As a colonial, I like to figure out the possible meanings of descriptive vocabulary. The Kindle dictionary helps sometimes. At other times the English is not “proper,” as when regional slang is thrown into the story mix. The Kindle dictionary does not help but context usually suffices.
Related to vocabulary, this novel contains terminology specific to the music industry at a deeper level than a music consumer like me is familiar with. When the group gets together for rehearsal before going on the road, the stories that take place in the rehearsal studios left me behind. Because I am a reader who loves learning new things, this is a positive point for me, not a criticism.
Another positive point is the description used in the scene settings. Will’s village life is described in detail as is Geordie’s life in Scotland. The descriptions of houses and shops also informed me of new vocabulary to describe familiar things. The group is on tour, a natural showcase for a writer who likes to write descriptions as Northouse seems to do.
Anybody who plays an instrument or has the idea to form a band will love this book. Anyone who has the ambition to go “on tour” (it is not always music related only) will love this story. Music “consumers only,” (me) will love the chapter titles. The Table of Contents resembles a game of “Name That Tune.” The novel sells for USD 2.99 on Amazon and is available as a free read through Kindle Unlimited. I give it four-plus Amazon stars as an amusing, if slightly confusing, read. My unfamiliarity with music as a trade and up-to-date drug references made it slightly confusing for me. Your experience might be different.